Crema (Agenzia Fides) - "It is essential for us to express our closeness to the father Gigi Maccalli’s family, to all Madignano who wants to embrace their fellow citizen, sending this message to the Foreign Ministry: we hope that maximum attention is paid to this case that has deeply affected our community, concerned about the fate of a generous son, so that there is no silence on a story that brings us back to the drama of one of the poorest countries in the world, devastated first by dictatorship and now by a socio-political and economic situation". This is the appeal launched by the Municipal Council of Crema, an Italian city whose province is where missionary father Luigi Maccalli, kidnapped in Niger a month ago, comes from (see Fides 18/19/9/2018).
"On the night of 17 September - recalls the text sent to Fides - a commando of men still unknown broke into the mission of Bomoanga, in Niger and kidnapped Father Pierluigi Maccalli, a missionary priest who has been working on the African continent for many years". "From that moment on - the text continues - there has never been any update from Niger: we know nothing about the kidnappers - perhaps jihadists from neighboring Burkina Faso – we know nothing about the reasons and purposes, we know nothing about Father Maccalli’s condition. What further worries us is the silence that surrounds this story that touches our community closely".
The letter of the City Council recalls "the missionary spirit of Father Maccalli", and hopes to receive good news soon. "We appeal to the government to instil full commitment to diplomatic relations with Niger and its President, Mahamadou Issoufou. And we also appeal to his kidnappers: please let his family know that Father Maccalli is alive and well, and we ask you to free him, without any other conditions".
Among the numerous appeals in favor of Father Luigi, the voice of the Church is not lacking. Mgr. Laurent Djalwana Lompo, Bishop of the diocese of Niamey, asked the faithful to pray incessantly for the release of the missionary. In these days the Christians of the Mission of Fr. Gigi, Bomoanga, organized a pilgrimage to the hill overlooking the village, above which a cross was erected. In Makalondi two young Protestant pastors organized a vigil of ecumenical prayer for Fr. Gigi, together with the Catholic faithful.
And also the Muslim leaders of Niger (see Fides 24/9/2018) joined the Christians in the prayer for the release, launching a message that his kidnappers, following the true teaching of Islam, stop all violence and respect the rights of every person.
The manifesto of the Inter-religious Committee of Niger, which calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Fr. Gigi, is posted in various parts of the city and in various public and private buildings, to invite everyone to join this campaign of prayer and pressure on the kidnappers. (SG/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 16/10/2018)