PIME on Bossi’s return to Mindanao: “not for the time being”

Fr. Gian Battista Zanchi, superior general of the Pontifical Foreign Missions (PIME) said Bossi won't be assigned to Mindanao even if the Italian priest, freed after a 39-day abduction, wished he would return to his pre-kidnap days in his parish in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay.

"Not for the time being, it is not only our wish but the government's as well…he would be given a new assignment, not in Mindanao should he wish to return to the Philippines," CBCP online quoted Fr. Zanchi as saying.

Bossi was kidnapped on June 10 in Zamboanga Sibugay province and was freed on Jly 19 in Sultan Naga Dimaporo (formerly Karomatan), Lanao del Norte by captors, who identified themselves to him as "Abu Sayyaf.” 

The PIME head cited two of their members had been killed in the past and another one kidnapped.

On April 11, 1985, Fr. Tulio Favali was killed in Tulunan, North Cotabato. Fr. Salvatore Carzeda was killed in Zamboanga City on June 20, 1992.

Less than ten years ago, Fr. Lucianno Benedetti was kidnapped near Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte in 1998.  He was freed by his captors after 69 days.

Bossi returned to Italy for a vacation. According to PIME, he is scheduled to meet Pope Benedict XVI on September 1 in Loreto, Italy for a youth gathering to share his experience.

Zanchi talked of the impact of Bossi's abduction to the work of the group.

"Maybe God wants to say something to our Institute, to our missionaries who serve witnesses of His love for the people," Fr. Zanchi said. He added "Maybe God wants us to change and do something to strengthen and further improve our vocation."

He said PIME serves the local Catholic church with programs "especially for those who are really poor, marginalized and oppressed which may also be a cause of possible kidnapping."

He said, however, that PIME encounters "the same risks" in 18 countries where they have missionaries.  

Zanchi said neither PIME nor the Italian government paid ransom for Bossi's freedom. 

"But we really don't know the political 'insides' for normally, the Italian government says they are ready to help build schools or launch development projects but no money goes straight to the kidnappers," he was quoted as saying.

More than half a month after Bossi's release, there has been no progress report on the pursuit operations against them. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)