DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     November 17, 1998     vol. 9, no. 225

from a CATHOLIC perspective

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO


          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- An Italian missionary priest has been released to authorities in the Philippines, more than two months after he was kidnapped by Islamic rebels.

          Father Luciano Benedetti, a PIME missionary who was abducted on September 8 from the town of Dipolog in Mindanao, was reunited with his superior, Father Giulio Mariani, after the conclusion of successful negotiations between government officials and Islamic leaders. Government authorities said that no ransom had been paid, but some rebels involved in the kidnapping had been released from criminal charges.

          The kidnappers, connected with the Islamic group Abu Sayyaf, had originally taken 30 hostages during a night raid in Dipolog. Armed and masked, the Abu Sayyaf band originally took 11 hostages, but released all but Father Benedetti within a few days.

          Bishop Jose Manguiran of Dipolog had appealed from help from other Islamic groups in negotiating the release of the Italian missionary. Another Islamic separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) recently concluded a pact with Abu Sayyaf, in which each group agreed to stop kidnappings. (In 1997 there were 249 people kidnapped in the southern Philippines, where the Islamic groups are seeking autonomy; thus far in 1998 there have been another 146 people held for ransom.) It was MILF which first announced the liberation of Father Benedetti.

          Immediately after his release, Father Benedetti was taken to Manila to meet with President Joseph Estrada, who had promised to aggressive action against the Muslim guerrillas during his electoral campaign this summer.

          Interviewed by telephone, Father Mariani, the PIME superior, reported that Father Benedetti had been treated with respect throughout his imprisonment, but was suffering from the effects of hunger and isolation. The missionary priest is expected to return to Italy, to live with his family during a period of recovery.

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Nov 17, 1998       volume 9, no. 225


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