Benedict expresses joy over kidnapped priest's release

Benedict XVI has expressed "great joy" at the news that an Italian missionary priest kidnapped for more than a month by Muslim separatists in the Phillipines has been released following negotiations with the country's police.

The Guardian reports that Fr Giancarlo Bossi, 57, was kidnapped 10 June in the Southeast Asian nation's volatile south.

Chief Superintendent Jaime Caringal, a regional police commander, said the Roman Catholic priest was freed at about 9 pm Thursday along the boundary between Lanao Del Sur and Lanau Del Norte provinces. "He is well, but he lost a lot of weight," Caringal said.

In Rome, Italian Premier Romano Prodi announced the release. "Father Giancarlo Bossi has been freed ... I'm truly emotional, happy," Prodi said. "Today is his mother's birthday, so it was also a very lucky coincidence."

On July 10, a Philippine marine convoy searching for Bossi was ambushed by Muslim insurgents in jungle on the southern island of Basilan, and 14 troops were killed. The military blamed the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf for the clash.

Pope Benedict XVI said last week that he was praying daily for Bossi, and Italy sent a longtime diplomat, Margherita Boniver, to the Philippines to work for his release.

Kidnapped priest freed (The Guardian, 19/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
PIME Missionaries

Prayers continue for kidnapped priest in Philippines (CathNews, 17/7/07)
US spy planes search for kidnapped priest (CathNews, 13/6/07)
Kidnapped Italian priest still alive but not well (CathNews, 21/11/01)
Italian priest kidnapped in Philippines (CathNews, 19/10/01)
Philippines missionaries remain in kidnap territory but urge prayers (CathNews, 8/8/01)

20 Jul 2007