Pope Francis said he is happy and grateful to God for the liberation of Father Pierluigi Maccalli, the Italian missionary priest who was kidnapped in Niger on 17 September 2018. Father Maccalli was released in Mali on 8 October, after two years of imprisonment in the hands of jihadist militants together with three other hostages.
Speaking after the Angelus prayer on Sunday 18 October, the Pope said: “I wish to thank God for the long-awaited release of Father Pierluigi Maccalli who was kidnapped two years ago in Niger.”
The Pope also expressed joy for the release of the other hostages and said “We continue to pray for missionaries and Catechists and for all those who are persecuted or kidnapped in various parts of the world.”
World Mission Sunday
The Pope’s words came on World Mission Sunday, celebrated this year with the theme taken from the Book of Isaiah, “Baptized and Sent. Weavers of fraternity”.
World Mission Day, or Mission Sunday, was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926, to remind Catholics about their commitment and support to the missionary work of the Church through prayer and sacrifice.
Emphasizing the precious work of evangelization carried out by lay and consecrated persons, the Pope commented on the word “weavers” saying every Christian is called to be a weaver of fraternity.
“In a special way, missionaries, priests, laity and consecrated persons who sow the Gospel in the great field of the world are called to be weavers of fraternity,” Pope Francis said: “We pray for them and give them our concrete support.”