Released priest reveals details of kidnapping ordeal

Fr. Pier Luigi Maccalli © Aid to the Church in Need

Source: Aid to the Church in Need

A priest who spent two years in captivity with a jihadist group in the Sahel region has revealed how he “felt the silence of God” during his two-year ordeal that saw him dragged across Africa.

Father Pierluigi Maccalli of the Society of African Missions (SMA), who was kidnapped in Niger, near the border with Burkina Faso, told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) how he felt abandoned after his kidnapping in October 2018.

He said: “I often say that Mary and the Holy Spirit supported me during this difficult time when I lived the dark night of the soul and felt the silence of God. Yet at the same time, prayer has given me strength every day.

Describing the darkest moments of his kidnapping, Father Maccalli said: “We came to a cave, and that’s where they handcuffed me to a tree. It was a very uncomfortable time. I cried and cried out to God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ‘”

He adds: “I think they were well organized, because my captors in Niger were young Fulani men from a region close to Burkina Faso. The day after my kidnapping, I saw them phoning.

“No doubt they were giving details about me and that they had been ordered to take me to Mali. When I asked them where they were taking me, they said ‘To the Arabs’. .

“‘The Arabs’ were people who lived in Mali. And they actually handed me over to those Arabs, who then drove me into the Sahara Desert.”

Father Maccalli was being held by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims with links to Al Qaeda, the same group that currently detains Sister Gloria Narvaez Argoti, a Colombian nun, who was abducted in Mali in 2017.

Father Maccalli said: “Every day I pray for this nun who, after four and a half years, still remains in the hands of her captors. I was imprisoned for two years, and it was a long time. She’s spent twice as long – she’s a woman, and she’s alone. “

Father Maccalli traveled to Fatima to thank Saint Mary for his release – he prayed the Rosary every day, which he attributes to his release.

He said: “Yes, I made a rosary with a piece of cloth, of the head covering that protected my head from the sun, and every day I prayed to Our Lady, Defeat of Knots, entrusting her with this big and thorny problem. and ask him to intercede for my release “.

Despite the high level of persecution against Christians in Africa, Father Maccalli was convinced that the Church had a bright future on the continent.

He said, “The Church was born out of persecution from the very beginning. From each ordeal is born a new community, a new consciousness. I am quite sure that this difficult period… will bear fruits of peace, fruits of freedom, fruits of new life “.

Original interview with Paulo Aido

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Aid to the Church in Need – www.acnuk.org

Keywords: Father Pierluigi Maccalli, Society of African Missions, SMA, Kidnap, ACN, Aid to the Church in Need, Niger, Sister Gloria Narvaez Argoti

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