Kidnapped Missionary Reported Dead in Congo Republic

Father Jean Guth, 63, of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost

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BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of the Congo, SEPT. 29, 2002 ( Father Jean Guth, a Spiritan missionary kidnapped last Easter, died during captivity, his religious congregation reported.

The 63-year-old missionary of French nationality was likely weakened during his long ordeal. He was kidnapped by the «Ninja» guerrillas in the south-central Pool region. One report said he may have died of an illness in August and was buried.

Father Guth disappeared March 31 while trying to return from Kindamba to the parish of Mayama that he created, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) away. He was kidnapped on the way by guerrillas, followers of former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas.

The Congregation of the Holy Ghost indicated that since «his abduction, there has been no official news of his whereabouts. … Some say that Jean was wounded and that a tendon in his foot was cut.»

Since the «Ninjas are pursued by the army,» the congregation said previously, «they are constantly on the move, and Jean continues to be carried.»

When he received the news, John Paul II sent a telegram to Bishop Louis Portella of Kinkala, to express his sympathy over the death of this priest who gave 30 years of his life in the service to the Church in the Congo Republic.

In his message, the Holy Father encourages Catholics in the Congo Republic «to commit themselves each day to following Christ to reject violence and build a lasting peace, based on justice and respect of persons.»

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