German missionary priest released a year after being abducted in Mali — By: Catholic News Agency

Father Hans-Joachim Lohre, a German priest who was reportedly kidnapped in November 2022 in Mali, was freed Nov. 26, 2023. / Credit: ACN

ACI Africa, Nov 27, 2023 / 14:45 pm (CNA).

Father Hans-Joachim Lohre, a member of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa (also known as the White Fathers) who was reportedly kidnapped in Bamako, the capital of Mali, on Nov. 20, 2022, has been set free.

According to Agenzia Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, the German priest was released on Sunday, Nov. 26.

A representative of the Malian government and two representatives of the Archdiocese of Bamako made public the announcement of the release and “wished to remain anonymous,” according to a Monday, Nov. 27, report by Agenzia Fides.

After being released and handed over to the Malian authorities following a negotiation that was reportedly done directly by the German government, Lohre was said to have been “flown to Germany overnight on a special flight.”

Contacted for comment on the day of the release, the Society of the Missionaries of Africa told ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, that “we shall have time” to provide an update on Lohre’s situation.

Asked to confirm the media reports about the release of Lohre, Father Didier Sawadogo, the provincial of the West Africa Province of the missionary congregation, added in a note shared with ACI Africa: “We are waiting for confirmation.”

Earlier, Father Pawel Hulecki, the assistant general of the White Fathers, had asked for prayers for their kidnapped confrere, saying that his whereabouts were still unknown.

“We still don’t know how he is doing, and we pray for his liberation,” Hulecki said about Lohre in a Nov. 23 report.

Lohre was taken away as he was preparing to celebrate Mass in a church in the capital city of the West African nation.

His car was found abandoned and the cross he always carried with him was on the ground near the car.

According to the Catholic pontifical organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the 66-year-old priest “was an important reference person for interreligious dialogue, teaching at the Institute of Christian-Islamic Education.”

According to ACN, Lohre, also known among his friends as Ha-Jo, had for more than three decades been a keen champion of religious cohesion in Mali.

The foundation highlighted the priest’s deep commitment to interreligious dialogue in Mali, recalling how he had, for a long time, been the foundation’s contact person in the West African nation and had taken part in several events hosted by the pontifical charity foundation.

This story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

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