In Niger, joy and surprise at sign of life in case of abducted missionary

“IT’S GREAT NEWS, and we are delighted and hopeful that everything may turn out well,” Father Walter Maccalli said in a brief recorded statement sent to the Portuguese office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), after a video surfaced that showed that his abducted brother, a missionary who had been working in Niger, is still alive. In September 2018, Father Pier Luigi Maccalli was abducted from his parish in Bomoanga.

Father Pierluigi Maccalli (l) and Nicola Ciacco

This was the first reaction from a member of Father Pier Luigi Maccalli’s family. His whereabouts remain unknown and there had been no news whatsoever about his fate. Now, however, a video has been released in which he is seen, looking tired, alongside another abducted prisoner, who has been identified as an Italian, Nicola Ciacco.

According to the periodical Aïr Info, which has published a photo taken from the video, the footage has been “authenticated” and is believed to have been recorded on March 24, 2020.

Not even 23 seconds long, the video appears to have been recorded by the priest’s abductors as proof of life and may indicate the possibility of negotiations for the liberation of this missionary, who is 59 years-old and has spent more than a decade serving the Church in Africa.

For his brother, Father Walter Maccalli, who is likewise a missionary in Africa, currently working in Foya, Libéria, it was “a great surprise” to see this video since he had “never expected to get news of this kind about his brother.” After all, as he said in his message to ACN, “a great deal of time has passed without knowing anything.”

Assuming that this could be a matter of the abductors proving that his brother is still alive with a view to eventual negotiations, Father Walter acknowledges that “this is a first step.” “Let us continue to pray and hope that we may finally even be able to meet in person and truly live that joy that we have been hoping for for such a long, long time,” said Father Walter.

—Paolo Aido