ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, JULY 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI expressed great joy over the release of a kidnapped missionary priest, Italian Father Giancarlo Bossi, who was missing for 39 days in the Philippines.
The Pope commented on various occasions that he was following the case of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions priest, who was kidnapped from his parish on June 10.
The Holy Father was immediately informed Thursday of Father Bossi’s release Thursday.
“The Pope,” said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, “prayed each and every day for the release of Father Giancarlo Bossi. The news of his release brings great joy to the entire Church and also to the Holy Father.”
“It seems,” continued Father Lombardi, “that our prayers have been answered. We now hope that Father Bossi may tranquilly return to his missionary duties and that there be no further abductions or other episodes of violence in the region.”
According to Jaime Caringal, who says he mediated with the abductors, Father Bossi was freed Thursday evening in the city of Karumatan, AsiaNews reported.
Although it is not yet clear who is responsible for the kidnapping, the police chief described negotiations for the release of Father Bossi as “frenetic.”
“Father Bossi was released without any payment of any ransom. What the Church in the Philippines did was pray for a positive outcome,” said Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, spokesman for the Filipino bishops’ conference.
Speaking about his captivity, Father Bossi said: “During the 39 days, I was constantly moved from place to place. I prayed for my capturers every evening.”
“I used to smoke a lot prior to the abduction,” confessed the 57-year-old missionary. “Then one day when I was climbing a mountain together with the abductors I felt very weak, so I said to myself, if I want to survive I should not smoke anymore, and so I didn’t!”
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Zamboanga said the abduction of Father Bossi had been a matter of great concern, adding that his release had “overjoyed whole Church.”