Pope Francis have began intercession for Italian priest, Fr Maurizio Pallu, 63, who was kidnapped with four others after arriving Benin City, Edo state on Thursday.
According to report on Twitter by Ines San Martin, an Argentine covering the Vatican, the “Papal spokesman on Twitter said Pope Francis has been informed of the kidnapping, and he’s praying for the priest”.
Fr Pallu was taken in Benin City, south of Nigeria, the news agency ANSA and Avvenire, newspaper and website of the Italian Catholic Bishops Conference, first reported.
Kidnappings for ransom are common in Nigeria, with ordinary residents and even schoolchildren targeted as well as foreigners.
Victims usually are freed unharmed after a ransom is paid, though security forces have rescued a few high-profile abductees.
Pallu had worked as a lay missionary before entering a seminary in Rome in 1988, Avvenire reported.
He was later a parish priest in the Dutch city of Haarlem before being assigned to the archdiocese in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.
Pope Francis has been informed of the Italian priest kidnapped in Nigeria, Fr. Maurizio Pallu, and is praying for him. https://t.co/p26XFziNSo
— Ines San Martin (@inesanma) October 13, 2017
The archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, told the television station Tv2000 that they did not yet have news about the priest, “but we have faith and continue to hope that in a short time Maurizio will be freed.”
“Authorities are doing everything to locate him,” the cardinal said.
“The kidnappers should let him go soon, because it is not easy to bring an Italian around in the forest without being seen.”
The archdiocese of Rome expressed “apprehension and worry” for the priest’s safety and said the church “was united in prayer” for his liberation.
Other foreigners kidnapped in the West African nation this year include two German archaeologists, who were freed by their captors, and two Turkish nationals, whom local police said they rescued.
The two were employees of a construction company.