Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "The release of Father Pierluigi Maccalli, missionary of the Society for African Missions is a special sign of hope for all of us, for Africa and for the Universal Church, in the month traditionally dedicated to missions and in view of the forthcoming celebration of World Mission Sunday. It is the sign and living testimony that the grace of Christ works and gives new hope in times of violence, conflict and pandemic. The release shows us that the grace of Christ is stronger than any difficulty and we must always trust in him": comments Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, Tanzanian Archbishop, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, in an interview with Fides on the release of the Italian missionary kidnapped in Niger on September 17, 2018.
"We are very happy and share our joy with the Society for the Africa Missions and the local Church", the Archbishop continued. "This event, by the will of God, has had a happy ending, reminds us that missionaries are always close to the people, they do not flee even during difficult situations and give their lives for the Gospel. The missionaries who work in many parts of the world, often isolated or forgotten, like Father Maccalli, 'left their land', left their homeland to go to distant lands, in the name of Christ. They left, but then they stay. Leaving and staying are the two verbs that indicate the double dynamics of the life of missionaries. But these two actions have no human origin, they are not the result of a personal effort or intention: missionaries go because the power that guides them is a power that comes from above, it is the Spirit of God. Even in the most difficult contexts, they remain not thanks to their ideas or their determination, but animated and supported by the grace of God. The love of Christ drives them, it creates their devotion and resilience and in some cases it can lead them to the highest sacrifice, that of life itself: it is martyrdom that is a gift from God. Love for God is greater than any difficulty or obstacle. This is the lesson that Father Pierluigi’s story teaches us".
"Now we hope", concluded Archbishop Rugambwa, "that this liberation will be a step forward that will bring dialogue back into vogue and be a seed to promote peace, reconciliation and brotherhood in the violent Sahel area and throughout the African continent where there are still many outbreaks of conflict and violence that cause so much suffering. We hope and pray that a similar happy ending will be reserved for all other cases of kidnapping in Africa and in other parts of the world that cause a lot of pain and worry to innocent families. When such cases of kidnapping or other violence occur, these painful episodes can create fear or discouragement. But today, thank God, we have been given new hope". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 9/10/2020)