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Pope asks kidnappers to free toddler

 Pope Benedict has pleaded for the immediate release of a 17-month-old boy kidnapped from his home near Parma last Thursday. Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano sent a telegram, on Tuesday, in the Pope's name, to Bishop Cesare Bonicelli of Parma, Italy, calling for the release of Tommaso Onofri. The message read: "The Supreme Pontiff unites himself to Your Excellency's appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of little Tommaso Onofri, expressing his intense solidarity to parents and family members struck by such acute anguish for the brutal kidnapping of their relative. And, while entrusting the child to the special maternal protection of the Most Holy Virgin, he gives assurances of special recollections in his prayers and sends a heartfelt and comforting apostolic blessing. " The Italian media has been gripped by the case for the last six days. Tomasso's parents have appeared on television in an appeal to the kidnappers, saying their son desperately needs medicine to control his epileptic seizures. Investigators suspect extortion is the motive for the kidnapping. Mr Onofri has access to cash in the course of his work at a post office. Source: VIS