Irish bishops call for release of abducted priest

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 15 2009 12:03 AM | Updated as of Oct 15 2009 07:22 PM

DUBLIN - Irish bishops and politicians called Wednesday for the release of an elderly priest abducted in the Philippines, saying he needed immediate medical attention.

Six armed gunmen kidnapped Father Michael Sinnott, 79, from his home at the Missionary Society of Saint Columban compound in Pagadian City in the southern Philippines on Sunday.

"I plead with those who have influence to expedite the release of this true servant of the people," said Bishop Colm O'Reilly, chairman of the Bishops' Commission For Overseas Missions in Ireland.

"Father Sinnott's courage and generosity in returning to active missionary service following major surgery, and already close to 80 years of age, has touched the hearts of Irish people as well as the many people to whom he ministers."

In parliament, the opposition Labor foreign affairs spokesman Michael D Higgins called for his release and said that "everybody in Ireland" was affected by the kidnapping of a man who had debilitating medical needs.

"Anything visited upon him is visited upon everyone in Ireland.

"We want him released and to have immediate access to the medical support that he requires," Higgins said.