Vatican Joyful Over Liberation of Iraqi Priests

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 21, 2007 ( The Holy See received with joy the news that the two priests kidnapped in Iraq over a week ago, have been set free.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, confirmed today that the priests have been liberated. The Vatican spokesman expressed the hope that kidnappings like this one would not happen again.

The two priests, Father Mazen Ishoa, 35, and Father Pius Afas, 60, were kidnapped on their way to celebrate Mass on Oct. 13 at Our Lady of Fatima Parish Church in the al-Faisaliya neighborhood.

According to Catholic sources in Mosul, they were released on a street in the city this morning. It has not been confirmed whether a ransom was paid for the two priests. The kidnappers, who did not make any claims about political allegiance, had asked for a $1 million ransom, and had set a payment deadline for Saturday.

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