AFRICA/MALI - Four years and 5 months after the kidnapping, there is still no news of Sister Gloria

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Bamako (Agenzia Fides) - Time passes, inexorable and cruel: 4 years and 5 months ago Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez, a Colombian nun from the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, fell into the hands of the jihadists in Mali (see Fides, 8/2/2017).
The Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the Mali-based branch of Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping on July 1, 2017 and posted a video on the internet showing the nun being held captive in the desert of northern Mali. "In the video, absurd accusations were made against Sister Gloria and all the missionaries who work in Mali and in the Muslim Sahel", wrote to Fides Agenzia Fides Father Marco Prada, priest of the Society for African Missions (SMA) and brother of Father Gigi Maccalli who was also hostage of the same kidnappers as the nun, but who was released in October 2020 (see Fides, 9/10/2020). "Gloria Cecilia Narváez was sent by her congregation to Mali to preach Christianity and convert Muslims to the Christian religion. She and her congregation have the sole intention of stripping the Muslims of Mali of their beliefs and replacing them with lies", this was one of the accusations made.
In September 2017, the Colombian authorities had highlighted Sister Gloria's poor health. "She is alive, but her health is not good. She has leg and kidney problems", said General Fernando Murillo, commander of the Colombian police, responsible for the investigation of the kidnapping. Fr. Prada further explains that the French hostage Sophie Pétronin and later released, had confirmed the seriousness of her health conditions. A few weeks ago the news, circulated on the websites of some Colombian newspapers, that the government of Sister Gloria's country had withdrawn the group of investigators, belonging to the special forces of the Colombian army and secret services, sent to Mali a year and half ago, for a search and rescue operation of the nun. They were in charge of establishing contact with the kidnappers, and together with their Malian colleagues, to facilitate the release of the nun. The government has not provided any explanation for this measure. (MP/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 7/7/2021)