Friday, 13 November 2009

Captive Irish Priest Released in Philippines

Muslim Leaders Pressured Kidnappers to Relent

MANILA, Philippines, NOV. 12, 2009 ( Columban Father Michael Sinnott, who was abducted Oct. 11 from his home in the Philippines, was released early today by the intervention of a Muslim group.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a Muslim rebel group, answered an appeal for help from the Filipino government, with which it had been locked in violent conflict resulting in hundreds of deaths only months ago.

Leaders from the group found the kidnappers and pressured them to release the missionary priest, who was being held for a ransom that was set at $2 million. The captors did not receive any money, and authorities are working to verify their identities.

The 79-year-old priest, who came from Ireland to serve in the Philippines 40 years ago, has been frail and in need of medication since an open heart surgery he underwent in July.

Despite this experience, Father Sinnott is stating that he wants to remain working in the Philippines.

Father Patrick O'Donoghue, regional director of the Columban missionaries, expressed his "great joy and gratitude to God" for the release of his confrere.

In an article published by the Filipino bishops' conference, Father O'Donoghue affirmed his congregation's appreciation for the efforts of the Muslim leaders.

The bishops' conference president, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro, echoed this appreciation, and expressed the desire for continued peaceful collaboration between the government and the Islamic group.

The prelate affirmed: "We are also hoping that a similar situation will not happen again. We have to treasure and be grateful to the missionaries working with the people in Mindanao."