PIME Missionaries: with Fr. Bossi, we answer violence with forgiveness
Manila (AsiaNews) – “Fr Bossi’s abduction is an experience of God’s forgiveness which he offers to his people; it encloses the sense of mission and the duty of the missionary who gifts himself entirely”. This is how Fr. Gianni Sandalo, superior of PIME missionaries in the Philippines describes the meaning of the missionary presence in the Asian nation at the end of three days of prayers and reflection yesterday in Manila. All of the PIME missionaries present in the country, together with PIME Superior General Fr.Gian Battista Zanchi, and the Archbishop of Mindanoa, Msgr. Romulo Geolina Valles. Three main themes were under specific discussion: the historic and socio-cultural profile of the situation in Mindanao, the presence of the Church on the island and the role of the missionaries there. “Fr. Bossi – underlines Fr. Sandalo – incarnates the victory of hope in a reality dominated by violence: ‘I forgive them, what’s more I want to build up a friendship with them’. There, this sentence spoken by Giancarlo the day after his liberation really captures the sense of our mission, because we must always answer violence with absolute forgiveness”. In Mindanao the “state of poverty is evident” this is why the missionary represents “an expression of solidarity” and “the value of the Churches universality, because it goes beyond the borders of single states and embraces all peoples”. “Just as Fr. Bossi’s abduction shows - Fr. Sandalo – these kidnap’s only take place for economic reasons: there is no clash between religions, the truth is that foreign missionaries and westerner’s in general represent a means for making money”. The Archbishop of Zamboanga also repeated “the fundamental presence of missionaries in the diocese”; on that subject we are studying a programme aimed at “sensitising the local population, to make them understand that they must have a sense of co-responsibility: the priest takes care of the community and at the same time the local community takes care of their pastor, which is what happened in the kidnap of Fr. Bossi, in which Christians and Muslims prayed together for his release”.
On the sidelines of the Manila meeting, Fr. Giancarlo Bossi confessed to AsiaNews “the desire to come home to embrace my family and to go on retreat for a period of meditation and prayer in view of the upcoming meeting in Loreto with the Pope”.
“My desire – confirms Fr. Bossi – is to return to Payao but the situation is still tense so no programmes can be made”. He confirms the ranger of possible new abductions and underlines that his “does not represent an isolated case and that in the future events of this nature could happen again” for “economic reasons: it’s only a question of money”.
The PIME missionary says he “is in good health and to have gained 6 of the 20 kilos he lost during captivity: my kidnappers treated me well, sharing their food with me, but feeling on just rice and dried fish for 40 days id truly difficult. Just as it is hard not to smoke, but I decided to quit and so far I haven’t taken it up again”.
Fr Giancarlo Bossi is due to return to Italy at midday Sunday August 12, on a flight from Dubai, landing in Fumicino airport. After a first encounter with his family he will be interrogated by prosecutors who have opened a file into the situation surrounding his kidnap. In the meantime new details have emerged regarding the initial phase of the abduction: the kidnappers bound his hands and feet with cello tape, from which he immediately freed himself. A situation of danger and panic was created, but Fr. Bossi chose not to resist, and was accompanied to a nearby river where a boat awaited him: this in order not to endanger the lives of the other two people who were with him at the time of his kidnap.