John Paul II has expressed his sadness at the news that an armed group stormed the Church of the Transfiguration in the Colombian city of Cali during Mass last Sunday, capturing more than 140 hostages.
    He made a strong appeal to the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (NLA) during yesterday's general audience in St Peter's Square to release the hostages.
    He referred to the "sacrilegious way" in which the guerrillas broke into the Church "during the celebration of Mass" to capture the hostages, which included the parish priest. More than half the hostages have been released, but 60 remain captive.
    Archbishop Isaias Duarte of Cali excommunicated the kidnappers. "Never before in the history of the Church had something like this happened," the Archbishop said. That which is "most sacred for Catholics, the Eucharist, was profaned and this is why those responsible must be excommunicated."
    Zenit 12:04pm 3/6/99


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