07/23/2007, 00.00
PHILIPPINES – ITALY
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Father Bossi to be in Loreto with the Pope and young people to talk about his missionary experience

by Santos Digal
The Ecumenical Bishops Forum slams new anti-terror law, calling it “oppressive, barbaric and demonic.” But in Mindanao more abductions of foreign missionaries are likely.

Manila (AsiaNews) – “I will share what my heart will prompt,” said Fr Giancarlo Bossi as he announced that he would talk about his ordeal and missionary experience in the Philippines, happy that he will get a chance to speak to Italian youth together with Pope Benedict XVI. He said this as he accepted an invitation by Mgr Giuseppe Betori, secretary-general of the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI), to attend the World Youth Day celebration in the central Italian town of Loreto, September 1-2.

Recently Father Bossi told AsiaNews that he wanted to meet Pope Benedict XVI, a request that the CEI accepted in order to give the PIME missionary an opportunity to talk to young Italian Catholics about his experience during their two-day meeting.

Bossi's “courageous experience as a missionary will enter into the hearts of many young people,” Betori said, and serve as a example for those who, like him, want to make the Gospel their life’s raison d’être and the root of their hope for living amongst others.”

Father Bossi’s experience in captivity made the PIME missionary’s faith stronger.

He described how he prayed with his captors, started discussions with them about understanding oneself and different people’s points of view and finding what made them happy.

“After some days we became close,” he said, claiming he would even crack jokes with his kidnappers, igniting a friendly debate with them over Christian and Islamic beliefs and comparing the Bible to the Qur’an.

However, he warned that more foreign missionaries will be kidnapped in Mindanao unless drastic measures are taken by concerned authorities.

“My kidnappers are no longer interested in taking locals as they now want to take foreigners like me [. . .]. But they promised me that [if I go back to Payao] they would never take me again,” he said.

Kidnappers pick foreigners like him to raise more money for their illegal activities.

“Despite what happened to me, I really love the Filipinos and I will continue to love them. I am really grateful to them since I know that even before I was released, their sense of solidarity was strong, that all of them wanted me to soon surface,” he said.

Meanwhile Mindanao the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (ESF) of Mindanao joined Catholic bishops in opposing the Human Security Act adopted by the government on July 15.

The growing militarisation of the region by Manila is seen as “an aggression” by the local population and results in “extrajudicial killings and abductions” of local community leaders, including Church leaders. In the forum’s view, the law is “oppressive, barbaric and demonic.”

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