VATICAN CITY DECEMBER 19, 2017 (CISA) – Pope Francis on December 19 appealed for the release of six religious sisters, who were kidnapped one month ago from their convent in Iguoriakhi, Nigeria.
The Pope made the appeal following the traditional prayer of Marian devotion on Gaudete Sunday — which is the third Sunday of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.
“Dear brothers and sisters, I heartily join myself to the appeal for the Bishops of Nigeria for the liberation of the Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Christ, kidnapped roughly a month ago from their convent in Iguoriakhi,” said Pope Francis.
“I pray with insistence for them and for all the other persons who find themselves in this painful condition: may they all, on the occasion of Christmas, finally return to their homes,” added the Pope.
The sisters kidnapped by armed gunmen on November 13 included three professed sisters named Sr Roseline Isiocha, Sr Aloysius Ajayi and Sr Frances Udi, along with three aspirants.
During the night of November 13, unknown armed gunmen entered the formation house where the sisters lived, robbed the residence, and then took the six women away using speedboats positioned on a river nearby.
According to local press reports, the same gunmen had been in the area for several days, at one point engaging in a gun battle with police that left one police officer dead.
On December 15, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria issued its own statement, saying that “agents of darkness continue to hold our people to ransom through kidnapping, armed robbery and other dehumanizing activities.”
“We are saddened and pained by the continued detention of our daughters, the Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, who were kidnapped almost a month ago in their convent in Iguoriakhi, near Benin City.”
“We appeal to those holding them to please heed our appeal and immediately release them,” the bishops said.
The appeals for the six sisters come after three other kidnapped Catholic nuns from an order called the Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy, were released on November 14 after two days in captivity.