Father Giancarlo Bossi of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missionaries (PIFM), who was released last July 19 after being held captive for 39 days by Muslim extremists, said this week, “We will not leave our places of work despite the risks we may encounter” in Mindanao, Philippines.
“Last week all of us from the PIFM who work in the Philippines met with our superior general, and we have reaffirmed that our presence in Mindanao will continue,” the Italian priest explained. He said his greatest joy since being released has been to “return to my parish and greet my parishioners.”
“I should return soon, because in Payao there are a great number of Christians, but in the center 50% are Muslim and 50% are Christian—in order to avoid, let’s call it, an encounter between civilizations or a war of religions,” the Italian priest said.
He called his kidnappers “serious criminals,” but he added, “That does not mean that all Muslims are. Just like when a Christian steals, not all Christians are thieves. I hope the people of Payao understand that.”
Father Bossi said he never thought he would be killed while in captivity, but that his kidnapping was motivated by money. “We are all in danger. We know it is this way and yet we continue forward in peace,” he stated, adding that he desires to meet with Pope Benedict XVI. “Knowing that he has always prayed for me, that he has always remembered me before the Lord, I think I need to thank him for it,” he said.