There had been no news of Fr. Pier Luigi Maccalli SMA since his abduction in September 2018
A newspaper in Niger, Aïr Info, has received a 23-second video that appears to show Father Pier Luigi Maccalli, an Italian member of the Society of African Missions (SMA) who has not been heard from since he was abducted nearly two years ago in the landlocked West African country.
Eight assailants on motorcycles kidnapped the 59-year-old priest on Sept. 17, 2018 in a village in the southwestern part of Niger.
The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary witnessed Father Maccalli being taken from his home near the church. Fortunately, the sisters were not harmed.
There had been no news of the abducted SMA priest’s fate or whereabouts until Aïr Info reported on April 6 that it had received a video showing him to still be alive.
Another Italian hostage
However, the newspaper did not release the video.
Instead, it published an article with an image capture showing Father Maccalli with a long white beard, dressed in grey clothes and wearing dark sunglasses.
The photo shows another Italian hostage, identified as Nicola Ciacco. But the paper did not say where or when he was abducted.
« I can confirm that the video is authentic. It was filmed on March 24, as they say themselves in the video, » Aïr Info editor Ibrahim Manzo told AFP.
« No proof »
However, local Church officials remain cautious.
« We have (to date) no proof that Father Pier Luigi is alive, » said Father Thomas Codjovi, communications officer for the Catholic mission in Niger.
He said he’d seen only the screenshot showing the missionary, but not the video.
« If this information is true, it is good to know that he is alive, » Codjovi said.
A dangerous area
Jihadist attacks and kidnappings are frequent in southwestern Niger, where this abduction took place, as well as on the border with Nigeria (southeast). Westerners are prime targets.
Niger is a predominantly Muslim country where Christians represent only 1.5% of the population.
There two Catholic dioceses in the country, Niamey and Maradi, which are part of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina Faso-Niger.
Archbishop Laurent Lompo of Niamey is from a place not far from the village where Maccalli’s kidnapping took place.
The Muslim and Catholic communities generally live peacefully together in Niger.
However, some 45 churches were burned down during rioting in January 2015 after the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon mocking the Prophet Mohammed
Lucie Sarr (with Afp, traduction La Croix International)
- VIDÉO Quel est le troisième secret de Fatima ?
En 1917, la Vierge Marie a révélé à des bergers trois secrets, dont un passé…
- In Nigeria, more horrific abuse in Islamic schools
The learning of the Quran has almost disappeared to make way for … the worst…
- Une assemblée pour renforcer la communion des prêtres du Burkina et du Niger
Réunis en assemblée générale du 11 au 14 avril dans le diocèse de Koupéla, trois cents…
- VIDÉO Après quatre ans de pontificat, quel bilan pour le pape François ?
Le pape François fête, lundi 13 mars, le quatrième anniversaire de son élection à la chaire…
- Les chrétiens du Niger attendent des réponses
La minorité chrétienne du Niger reste sur ses gardes, un an après les attaques perpétrées…
- Le message vidéo du pape pour les JMJ de Cracovie 2016
Dans une vidéo diffusée mardi 19 juillet, le pape François a adressé, en italien, un message…
- Last of four kidnapped seminarians in Nigeria killed
Protective walls not sufficient to stop the attacks of Boko Haram, says Nigerian Catholic bishops’…
- Former prison in Rwanda to house new Catholic cathedral
News of the cathedral comes at a time when Rwanda has moved to control the…
- South Sudan inks peace deal in Rome
Sant’Egidio community brings all warring factions to the negotiation table By signing a peace declaration…
- African Jesuits call for peace in Cameroon
‘Inclusive dialogue involving Anglophone separatists is the only sustainable solution to the violence’ The Jesuit…