Bishops Urge Release of Kidnapped Priest

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, JUNE 11, 2007 ( The Philippine bishops launched an appeal for the release of Father Giancarlo Bossi, a missionary kidnapped Sunday.

Father Bossi, 57, an Italian of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was abducted after celebrating Mass in the southern island chain of Mindanao.

Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, the spokesman for the Philippines bishops’ conference, said today: “We implore the abductors: Please, save the missionary. We pray that he will be released as soon as possible, so he can return to lending his help to our people.”

For his part, Benedict XVI appealed for the release of all kidnap victims in his Sunday Angelus address.

Police identified one of Father Bossi’s kidnappers as Waning Abdulsalam, a brother of the leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and thus consider the group as the principal suspect.

The group has denied any involvement in the priest’s kidnapping and have agreed to cooperate in the investigation, AsiaNews reported.

The separatist’s movement spokesman, Eid Kabalu, said that the leader of the kidnappers “was once an MILF member,” but is no longer.