MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/24 September)- Italian missionary Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), who was kidnapped and freed in 2007 in Mindanao, has died on Sunday, his congregation has confirmed.
Bossi, 62, was assigned to the parish in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay when abducted on June 10 and was freed on July 19 in Sultan Naga Dimaporo (formerly Karomatan), Lanao del Norte by captors, who identified themselves to him as “Abu Sayyaf” members.
The kidnap survivor struggled with lung cancer, the PIME reported. He died in a clinic in Milan.
AsiaNews cited that Fr. Bossi, the athletic and stout priest, rose to “notoriety” in Italy and throughout the world when he was kidnapped.
“Moments of prayer and fasting as well as government pleas for his release spread all over Italy and the world. Pope Benedict XVI made an appeal to the kidnappers and prayed for him. On 19 July he was freed, thanks to the collaboration of the Italian and Philippine government,”according to www.asianews.it.
Bossi returned to Italy after his abduction and met Benedict XVI during a gathering between the Pope and the Italian youth in Loreto.
In that event, Bossi defended his captors saying “they treated me well and I prayed for them during the 40 days of my desert in the forest.”
He cited meeting “God’s tenderness” during his 39 days in captivity, the report added.
“A friend, a brother with whom I have lived almost ten years of my life. His loss is a great sorrow for all those who knew him during these years of mission,” AsiaNews quoted Fr. John King as saying on Monday.
King, regional superior of PIME Philippines, is also a former missionary companion of Bossi, the news agency said.
AsiaNews reported that tomorrow (Tuesday) night, the first celebrations in honor of the missionary will be held in Parañaque in the parish of Mary Queen of Apostles. They will be followed by moments of prayer in Payao (Mindanao), the parish where Fr. Bossi served for several years until his kidnapping in 2007.
“The people remember him mainly for his discretion, his good character and willingness to give all of himself to follow an initiative or help a person. He had suffered the publicity and notoriety that followed his kidnapping and liberation in 2007. He loved simple things and he worked in silence, that’s why people loved him,” King told AsiaNews.
In January 2008, he returned to the Philippines and wanted to return to Payao but the bishops stopped him. He settled in Paranaque City for a year before he was moved to a mission in Western Mindoro.
The PIME said in 2007 that neither PIME nor the Italian government paid ransom for Bossi’s freedom. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)