Sunday, October 29, 2006
Pope Benedict XVI, condemning kidnapping worldwide, said on Sunday he was praying for victims of abduction and their relatives everywhere.
"From several sides I am getting requests to intervene in favor of people who are victims of kidnappings in different countries around the world," the pontiff said at the end of his traditional Sunday blessing, speaking from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square.
"While I reiterate the firmest condemnation of this crime, I remember in prayer all the victims, their families and friends."
Crime syndicates in Italy's southern region of Calabria or Sardinia have been blamed for most of Italy's kidnappings. Sardinia's rugged inland is home to gangs of bandits who kidnap for ransom and in the past kept their victims for months or even years before they were rescued or ransomed.
As many as 60 people were kidnapped each year in Italy in the 1970s. Victims in some cases were mutilated, tied to cots, beaten and made to go hungry.
The most famous case was that of J. Paul Getty III, grandson of the late American oil billionaire, who was kidnapped in Rome in 1973. Getty's captors cut off one of his ears and mailed it to a newspaper in Rome. Getty, 16 at the time of his abduction, was freed after five months and payment of $2.7 million.
Abductions are frequent around the world, particularly in Iraq, where they are practically a daily occurrence and victims have included priests.
I am uniting my prayers with those of Our Holy Father and pray that the dignity and sacredness of each human life be respected and upheld.