DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     June 3, 1999     vol. 10, no. 107

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Appeals for Release of Hostages Kidnapped During Mass

          VATICAN CITY, JUN 2 (ZENIT).- The Pope made a strong appeal to the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (NLA) of Colombia during this morning's general audience to release the hostages they kidnapped while the latter were attending Mass.

          John Paul II expressed his sadness over the news that an armed group erupted into the Church of the Transfiguration in the city of Cali during Mass last Sunday.

          The Holy Father was very clear, and referred to the "sacrilegious way" in which the guerrillas broke into the Church "during the celebration of Mass" to capture 140 hostages, among whom the parish priest. More than half the hostages have been released, but 60 remain in the guerrillas' power.

          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."

          The Pope recalled that "similar acts have taken place in the interior of the country, such as El Piņon, in Magdalena, including the murders of religious personnel."

          A few weeks ago the Holy Father appealed for the release of 25 hostages kidnapped by the NLA last April after forcing the pilots of a commercial flight to land on a secret runway.

          John Paul II ended his appeal by saying: "In face of acts of this magnitude, I renew my urgent call for pacification, respecting the rights of persons and committing to dialogue which will bring the desired solution to the grave crisis. I couple this hope with remembrance in my prayers that God may grant peace to Colombia." ZE99060207

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 3, 1999       volume 10, no. 107


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