Freed Italian Catholic Clergy Returns To His Parish In South RP

July 25, 2007 at 11:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 

Editorial cartoon by Mauro Biani. (http://maurobiani.splinder.com)

Papal Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) priest, the Rev. Giancarlo Bossi, in the southern Philippine town of Payao. Hundreds of Filipinos, Muslims and Christians, gather in the town to welcome the return of the 57-year old clergy on Wednesday July 25, 2007. (Mindanao Examiner/PIME Philippines Photos)

 

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Jul) – Freed Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi returned Wednesday to his parish in the remote town of Payao in the southern Filipino province of Zamboanga Sibugay, where hundreds of supporters have gathered to welcome him.

It was also in Payao town where he was kidnapped by Moro rebels on June 10.

Bossi’s reunion with the locals was emotional. Many were in tears when they saw the priest stepped out of his vehicle. He was frail, but smiled and waved to the crowds that surrounded his convoy.

They embraced Bossi and led him to his parish where more people were gathered and clapped their hands when they saw the 57-year old priest. It was the first time the priest returned to Payao town since he was freed by kidnappers on July 19.

Philippine authorities said Bossi was after celebrating mass in the village of Bulawan by rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front led by brothers Akiddin and Wanning Abdusallam.

Government officials said there was no ransom paid for Bossi’s freedom, but the kidnappers had demanded P50 million for his safe release.

Army Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said troops were hunting down the kidnappers. “Our forces are hunting down the kidnappers of Father Bossi and we will get sooner or later,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Pajarito said he would meet with the priest on Thursday in Payao town for a thanksgiving mass.

Bossi has told the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines that he forgives his captors and does not harbor ill will for them. “In spite of everything they are still my brothers,” he said.

“At night I pray for them. And if they kidnap me again, I would still pray for them, as there’s no bitterness in my heart whatsoever,” Bossi said. “When we pray the ‘Lord’s Prayer,’ we are all his sons and we are all brothers and sisters.”

Bossi said he longs to return to Payao “to be with my people whom I love.”

“Being a parish priest is comparable with a head of a family who ought to be with his children,” he said.

Bossi said he has plans to return to Italy next month to visit his family. “I will also personally thank friends and the Italians who prayed and held rallies for my rescue,” he said.

Provincial police filed charges last week against Bossi’s kidnappers. Bossi was the third Italian priest kidnapped in southern Philippines the past 9 years.

Rogue MILF rebels kidnapped Fr Luciano Benedetti, 52, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998 and held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.

In 2001, renegade MILF rebels and members of the bandit group called Pentagon Gang also snatched Fr Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.

The priest was freed after six months in captivity in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers. (Mindanao Examiner)

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