French Bishops Calls Kidnapping of Journalists in Iraq “Intolerable Blackmail”

Express Desire for a «Rapid Liberation»

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PARIS, AUG. 30, 2004 ( With an appeal to solidarity and a call to prayer, French bishops condemned the kidnapping of two French journalists in Iraq by Muslim terrorists.

After executing Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni last Thursday, the Sunni Muslim group called the Islamic Army claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Christian Chesnot of Radio France International and Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro, who disappeared Aug. 20.

The criminals are threatening to kill the two reporters if the French government does not revoke in 48 hours, which expire on Monday night, the law prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols, such as the Islamic headscarf, in public places.

In the statement, issued by Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard, president of the bishop’s conference, expressed on behalf of all the French bishops «the profound closeness of all the Catholic Church of France to the two hostages, their families, their friends and all journalists: their concern is ours, as is their hope.»

«I express our total solidarity with all persons who, by reason of their governmental, diplomatic, professional, humanitarian responsibilities or in the name of their faith, manifest their reprobation or condemnation of an intolerable blackmail, and unite their efforts to seek the rapid liberation of the two journalists,» he continued.

In addition, the Bishops invited all Catholics to «ardently take up the prayer today» formulated at Lourdes Aug. 15 together with the Pope and pray «for peace, so that courageous men and women will be found who will implement it.»

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