Philippines: kidnapped missionary freed today

 Sacred Heart missionary Fr Giuseppe Pierantoni, kidnapped in the Philippines on October 17 has been released unharmed. The Missionary News Service report that Philippine president, Gloria Arroyo made the announcement to the nation today. Fr Giuseppe (Beppe) was abducted by a group of around fifteen armed men after celebrating Mass at the parish of Dimataling on the Island of Mindanao. Ordained priest in 1987, Fr Beppe had worked in the Philippines for more than ten years. After the kidnapping, there was no news of his whereabouts for weeks and there were grave concerns for his health and safety. On December 23, the Pope made a special mention of Fr Beppe, saying: "May the Holy Christmas, mystery of good and peace, move the hearts of the abductors." In January, the Bishop of Pagadian, Mgr Zacharias Jimenez received a letter with some photographs and a tape from Father Beppe in which he said he was in good health. On March 8, the Bishop was contacted by phone by the abductors, who demanded a ransom of 300,000 pesos, two mobile phones and a satellite phone. On Saturday, three men were arrested and charged with the kidnapping. Today Fr Beppe walked free. During a brief telephone conversation with Fr Virginio Bressanelli, Superior General of the congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he said the experience had been like a spiritual retreat. "It gave me a lot of time to pray," he said. Fr Beppe said he had no idea who his kidnappers had been, and did not understand why he had been released.

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