OVER a thousand priests, nuns, imams, evangelical pastors, students and civil society members held a prayer rally last Friday night to seek divine help for the safety and freedom of kidnapped pontifical priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi. During a two-hour as  ‘Free… sembly at Plaza Pershing, representatives of the major religious groups in the city took turns to say prayers and sing hymns on behalf of Fr. Bossi. who has been in captivity since June 10. “I ask the faithful of the Archdiocese (of Zamboanga City) to pray for his-(Fr. Giancarlo Bossi’s) safety and immediate release and to reflect on the message of this crisis,” Archbishop Romulo Valles said in his statement read during the so-called “Prayer Rally of Solidarity for Fr. Bossi”. The rally was spearheaded by the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRMSP) and took place at downtown Plaza Pershing. The prayer rally was also participated in by college students of Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Western Mindanao State University and other schools, Valles’ message was delivered by Fr. David Alonzo, who is the vicar-general of the archdiocese. “The Archdiocese of Zamboanga in no uncertain terms condemns his kidnapping,” the archbishop also said. The prelate also called on “our people to join parish-based prayer assemblies. . .to form communities of prayer in school, offices, places of work, families and groups. Let this be an occasion for us to come together to pray for Fr. Bossi. Let this also be an occasion for us to strengthen our  resolved to promote peace based on real development.”

On the other hand, Muslim imams and the Islamic convenor of IRMSP also said prayers for the kidnap victim. IRMSP convenor Jaafar Kimpa in his message read at the end of the prayers said: “Just like any other major religions Islam condemns the taking of any person’s freedom. Taking or holding an individual or group unwillingly for whatever purpose is a violation of his right as a human being.” “Holding (Fr. Bossi) will only contribute to the so many problems affecting the Mindanaoans where everyone is sharing his peaceful efforts for a progressive and better society most especially for the future generations. The Muslim community of the (IRMSP) requests or even demand for the unconditional release to freedom for Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi,” said Kimpa.

Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF, the Catholic convenor in IRMSP, invited the leaders of other faith groups in the city to join the service. The initiative came after an emergency meeting among die local clergy called by the archbishop last Monday to consider steps to resolve the crisis. The rally ended with a community singing of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” while the participants held up lighted torches. After the singing, they symbolically placed all the torches together in one metal drum as sign of unity and resolve. (PAZ Press Release)