Philippines: fears grow for health of kidnapped priest

Fr Michael Sinnott

Fr Michael Sinnott

Fears are growing about the health of an elderly Columban missionary who was kidnapped more than two weeks ago in Mindanao.

Fr Michael Sinnott was taken at gunpoint from the mission compound in Pagadian City on 11 October two months before his 80th birthday. He recently underwent heart surgery and needs regular medication.

Fr Pat O’Donoghue, head of the Columban  Missionaries in the Philippines told  reporters yesterday that he was convinced Fr Michael was alive. But he said: “I just don’t know how well he is. After two weeks in captivity, he must be somewhat weak.”

While the authorities continue to search for the priest, churches have been holding prayers vigils across the diocese. Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar, prelate of the Pagadian diocese,  on Saturday asked parishes in the province’s 21 towns to display banners calling for Fr Michael's release. . One rally drew more than 600 people from different faiths.

In a statement, the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organizations said:  “the kidnapping has no place in a democratic and civilized society.”

In Kidapawan City, Bishop Romulo de la Cruz has advised diocesan and missionary priests to be extra careful. “We are not sure who will be the next victim. It is good to be careful at all times” the bishop said,  after celebrating Mass at Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace Cathedral on Sunday.