DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     January 15, 1999     vol. 10, no. 10

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          ROME (CWNews.com) - The archbishop of Freetown, Sierra Leone has been abducted by rebel forces as fighting between rebels and peacekeeping soldiers increased in the West African country this week, according to the MISNA missionary news service on Wednesday.

          Archbishop Joseph Henry Ganda, 66, was abducted from his residence on Tuesday or Wednesday, MISNA reported. Bishop Giorgio Biguzzi, president of the bishop's conference, said that Archbishop Ganda was being kept in the same place as Father Mario Guerra, an abducted missionary. Earlier on Wednesday, Vatican Radio reported that two other missionary priests, Fathers Maurizio Boa and Giuliano Pini, had been abducted and released by rebels last week.

          Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday that it was pulling its foreign staff out of Freetown at the request of the government as street fighting worsened. The UN had pulled its staff out several weeks ago.

          Speaking on Vatican Radio, the bishop of Makeni, Sierra Leone, has explained the reasons behind the kidnapping and release of two Italian missionaries in that war-torn African country.

          The two missionaries were captured in Freetown, the nation's capital, on January 10, by rebels of the United Revolutionary Front. They were released two days later. Bishop Giorgio Biguzzi told his radio audience that the rebels "probably hoped to obtain some concessions and attract some international attention." But he said that the Church had always followed the same policy: "to accept absolutely no conditions for the release of missionaries."

          Forced to leave his diocese to escape the civil war raging around him, Bishop Biguzzi has made repeated helicopter trips from Guinea, where he is now staying, back to the region of Freetown, to keep in touch with the priests who remain there. He is now leading an effort to gain international assistance for the people of Sierra Leone and especially for the missionaries working there.

          The first step toward peace and security for the country's people, the bishop said, must be "an end to the traffic in arms."

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

January 15-17, 1999       volume 10, no. 10


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