Former Kidnapped Victim, Italian Priest Bossi Returns To Southern RP To Continue Mission

January 23, 2008 at 1:26 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 23, 2008) – An Italian missioner kidnapped and freed by Muslim gunmen last year in the southern Philippines is returning to his parish on a remote village in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Father Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, is expected to arrive in Manila this week from Italy. “I feel good and I am happy to go back to my mission,” Bossi told the Catholic media AsiaNews in Rome.
Bossi was kidnapped June 10 last year in the town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province and freed more than a month later after private negotiators allegedly paid a still undetermined amount of ransom.
The clergy returned to Italy on August 10 shortly after his release from captivity and met with the Pope at the Youth Agora in Loreto town.
In Manila, Bossi will meet with fellow priests before flying to Zamboanga. The clergy had long wanted to return to Payao town to continue his missionary works.
“I want to go back as soon as possible to my parish in Payao, to my children.
The poor need people who can give them unlimited and unconditional love, and in Payao people are poor,” he said. “Whilst I was physically a prisoner, too many people are imprisoned by poverty. And their captivity can last a lifetime.”
Bossi is well respected and loved by both Muslim and Christian villagers in Payao where a road was named after the missioner. The clergy is widely known to help the poor and had taken care many children in the town.
“In Italy, I saw children look at food and say that’s yucky. In the Philippines I see kids of the same age rummage through garbage and thank God when they found something. There is something really wrong in this. We must go back to values that afford life more humane conditions,” he said.
It will be the second time the priest would return to Payao since his release from 39 days of captivity from suspected renegade members of the rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Bossi returned to the town in July 25 last year in a farewell to hundreds of villagers who gathered to welcome him.
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 July 19, 2007.
Philippine authorities said Bossi was kidnapped while celebrating mass in the village of Bulawan 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 they will have to talk to Bossi when he returns to Payao to convince him to return to defer his missionary works.
“I will suggest to Father Bossi to defer his plan or missionary works until we are sure that he will be safe in Payao when he returns. The kidnappers are still at large, although police filed criminal charges against them, and we are concerned about his safety,” Pajarito told the regional Mindanao Examiner newspaper on Wednesday.
Bossi has previously told the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines that he had forgiven 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.”
“Being a parish priest is comparable with a head of a family who ought to be with his children,” he said.Bossi was the third Italian priest kidnapped in southern Philippines the past 9 years.
Rogue MILF rebels kidnapped Fr Luciano Benedetti, 62, 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 51-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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