Calls for Prayer After Jesuit Priest Kidnapped in Afghanistan

JRS Regional Leader Abducted By Unidentified Group

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 739 hits

A Church missionary has made a plea to the mass media to do all they can to help save the leader of Jesuit Refugee Service Afghanistan after he was reported kidnapped in the country.

“We ask the mass media in the strictest confidence, because institutional bodies can do their job, to save Father Alexis Prem Kumar,” Msgr. Giuseppe Moretti, Superior of the "Missio sui iuris" of Afghanistan.

Indian Jesuit Father Kumar, 47, was kidnapped in Afghanistan June 2 by an unidentified group of armed men, Fides reported.

"We live now, after the seizure of a Jesuit priest, with profound prayer, silent, and full of hope. It is a sad event which we hope will be resolved positively soon," the fellow Jesuit said.

Father Kumar was kidnapped while on a visit to a Jesuit school for returnee refugees in the village of Sohadat, 25 km from Herat. His abduction was confirmed by the provincial superior of the Jesuits in South Asia, Father Edward Mudavassery.

Prior to that point, Father Kumar had been working in Afghanistan for four years as director of the "Jesuit Refugee Service" (JRS).

"The Jesuits have a community canonically established and carry out a service mainly in the field of education," Msgr. Moretti said. "They operate autonomously via JRS, for humanitarian assistance.”

The JRS is an international voluntary organization, sponsored by the Society of Jesus, which assists and cares for more than 800,000 refugees, including Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, Sri Lankan refugees in India, and Afghan refugees. The services it provides include medical care, education, vocational training, psychological support, and community development.

The Jesuits have informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India and the Governor of Herat that JRS has begun a search relating to the kidnapping and asked for maximum privacy.

Regarding who the kidnappers could be, Msgr. Moretti said: “We only know that they were taken by armed men, they might be Taliban factions or common criminals." He added that the kidnapping of foreigners is a common occurrence in the country.  

In order to facilitate the rapid and safe return of Father Kumar, the Jesuit Refugee Service said it will not be making further statements on the situation for the moment. 

(D.C.L.)