Philippines: priest's kidnappers release video, ransom demand rejected

Community prayer rally in Pagadian for the release of Fr Michael

Community prayer rally in Pagadian for the release of Fr Michael

A video of kidnapped missionary Father Michael Sinnott was televised in the Philippines on Saturday. It showed the priest holding an 22 October issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper. The film is the first public proof that Fr Sinnott, who is 79 and needs medication for a heart condition, is alive.

In the video, Fr Sinnott is pictured standing in front of a sheet or tablecloth in a forest.

"My kidnappers are led by commander Abu Jayad. They are asking $2m as ransom money,'" he said.

"We are living in the open, in difficult circumstances. I am still in good health even if I do not have the full medicines.'

He then appeals to the authorities in Manila and at home along with those in his own order to help secure his safe release.
On Sunday, Columban major superior Fr Patrick O’Donoghue said it was a relief to know that Fr Michael was alive, and he was glad he had some of his medications, but he was worried that the video was already eight days old.  He said it was not possible to pay the ransom. "The Columban Fathers do not pay ransom and we never have and I don't think we ever would," he said.

He said Fr Sinnott would not want a ransom to be paid.

"I could see him wanting that money to be used in ways rather than ransom. That $2m should rather be used for education, for the care of people with disabilities.. I hope that he continues to be well ... Father Mick was unjustly and harshly taken from his home three weeks ago today," he said,  as he called for continued prayers for Sinnott's immediate release.

“On this All Saints’ Day, let us unite our prayers with them that the hearts of the abductors will be open to compassion and fairness," he said.

Fr O'Donoghue said a special day of prayer and fasting for the safe release of Sinnott was held in all mission houses of Columbans across the globe on 28 October.

He said the relatives of Fr Des Hartford, another Columban who was also kidnapped 12 years ago, joined the Holy Hour in the jam-packed chapel at their Central House in Dalgan Park. Fr O’Donoghue expressed optimism that God will hear the prayers of his people and move the hearts of those holding Sinnott to release him immediately.

Since the kidnapping on 11 October, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists have taken part in prayer rallys, vigils and demonstrations appealing for the release of Fr Michael, who is a much-loved member of the community.

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