DUBLIN - An Irish Catholic priest abducted in the Philippines a month ago has been freed unharmed and neither country paid any of the kidnappers’ $2 million ransom demand, Irish and Filipino authorities announced late yesterday.
Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said the Rev. Michael Sinnott, 79, “displayed great forbearance . . . in spite of his age and difficult health.’’
“He is clearly a man of great resilience, strength, and courage, and we wish him well as he seeks to recover from such a trying ordeal,’’ said Irish President Mary McAleese, who called Sinnott’s freedom the answer to the shared prayers of millions.
And Prime Minister Brian Cowen said the government would help the priest enjoy “a speedy reunion with his family and friends.’’
Six armed men abducted Sinnott Oct. 11 from his missionary home on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, escaped by speedboat, and took him into the jungle.
Officials feared he could suffer a fatal heart attack because he was recovering from heart-bypass surgery. Rumors persisted that he had died in captivity.
Some government and security leaders in the Philippines had blamed Sinnott’s kidnap on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a separatist group that has fought for decades to carve out a Muslim state in the south of the predominantly Catholic country.
But the rebels denied involvement in Sinnott’s disappearance.