.- Pope John Paul "received with joy and relief the news of the release of the three Italian and one Polish hostages" that had been held in Iraq for nearly two months, said Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Office director yesterday afternoon, after hearing the news.
"While the Pope shares the joy of their families, he also feels close to the family of Fabrizio Quattrocchi who was assassinated in a barbaric fashion after being kidnapped."
The three Italians and a Polish worker were freed Tuesday after 56 days in captivity. The operation was led by Polish and U.S. special forces and took place after an intensive intelligence investigation, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.
The arrived home on Wednesday to an emotional welcome.
Umberto Cupertino, Maurizio Agliana and Salvatore Stefio were greeted by their families and a high-raking Italian government delegation in scenes of joy and tears.
Their landing, at Rome's military airport of Ciampino, was broadcast live on five of Italy's seven national television networks.