01/19/2010, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Kidnapped priest back in Philippines

Fr. Michael Sinnott, has returned to Manila after two months of rest in Ireland and now hopes to continue his work as a missionary in Zamboanga (Mindanao). Abducted by an armed commando in Pagadian on 11 October, he was eventually released on 12 November after 31 days of captivity.

 

Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - After two months of rest in Ireland Fr. Michael Sinnott returns to the Philippines. The missionary St. Columban landed in the capital on 15 January at 10 pm local time. There he was welcomed by his brother missionaries and the superior Fr. Patrick O'Donoghue. "I am happy to be back - Fr Sinnott said - and I hope to continue my work in Pagadian”. The missionary turned 80 last December 17. Despite health problems he asked his superiors to continue his mission in Zamboanga, the place of his abduction.

Fr. Sinnott was kidnapped last October 11 at his home in Pagadian (Zamboanga) by a commando of seven armed men. To escape the pursuit of the Philippine army his  kidnappers forced the elderly and ill Fr. Sinnott, to wander for a month in the jungle province of Lanao del Norte, located 150 km from Zamboanga. After 31 days of captivity, the missionary was released on 12 October. His rescue was a joint effort of police, army and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF). During the kidnapping Christians and Muslims in Zamboanga set up numerous prayer vigils to ask the kidnappers to free him.

"The day of my release I was impressed to see so many people praying for me - says Fr Sinnott – I thank all Filipinos from the bottom of my heart”.

In recent years, 13 foreign missionaries have been kidnapped or killed in the country. Fr. Sinnott is the third priest of Irish descent to be abducted. In 1997 Fr. Des Hartford was kidnapped by a group of Islamic rebels and freed after 12 days of captivity. A few years later in 2001 another missionary, from Waterford, Fr Hally Rufus, was killed during an attempted kidnapping. In 2007 Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, a PIME missionary in Zamboanga was kidnapped and freed after 39 days of captivity. This thanks to the cooperation of the MILF who mediated with the kidnappers.

 

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Joy for the release of Fr Sinnott
12/11/2009
Free after a month the priest kidnapped in Philippines
12/11/2009
Church and government will not yield to the kidnappers' ransom demand for F. Sinnott
02/11/2009
Philippine military and Moro Muslims together to liberate p. Sinnott
28/10/2009
Fr Sinnott is alive, first contact with captors
27/10/2009


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