Pope Appeals for Liberation of Italian Journalist

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2005 (Zenit.org).- In his first public appearance since returning to the Vatican, John Paul II appealed for the liberation of an Italian journalist and others kidnapped in Iraq.

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«While I continue to pray for peace in the Middle East, I make a profound appeal for the liberation of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and all those kidnapped in Iraq,» the Holy Father said.

The Pope’s address was read today on his behalf by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State.

The journalist of Il Manifesto newspaper was kidnapped in Baghdad Feb. 4. Her kidnappers have published their demands on the Internet.

Others who have disappeared in Iraq include French journalist Florence Aubenas and her guide, Hussein Hanoun, of whom there has been no news since Jan. 5.

The kidnapping of Iraqi citizens and foreigners has become a terrorist weapon and business, especially in areas less controlled by the international forces.

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