Priest Murdered in Philippines

54-Year-Old Missionary Shot by Kidnappers

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TABAWAN, Philippines, JAN. 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father Reynaldo Roda was shot and killed Tuesday in what appears to be an attempted kidnapping.

The 54-year-old priest spent the last 10 years as a missionary in the area where he was slain. He was the parish priest of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Tabawan, in the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo.

An Oblate associate of the slain priest told AsiaNews that Father Roda was praying in a chapel in the village of Likud Tabawan when about 10 men attacked him. He resisted until one of the men took out a handgun and shot the priest in the head.

A teacher who was with Father Roda was captured by the gunmen.

Reynaldo Roda was born in 1954. He made his first vows with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1975 and was ordained a priest in 1980.

Precedent

AsiaNews recalled that another Oblate of Mary Immaculate was shot dead in the same area in 1997. Bishop Benjamin de Jesus was murdered in front of the Jolo Cathedral.

The most recent kidnapping of a missionary in the Philippines was the case of Father Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. Father Bossi was taken hostage June 10, 2007, and held for more than five weeks.

AsiaNews said the southern island of Mindanao is a region known for the presence of Islamic fundamentalists. The largest group is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The movement of Abu Sayyaf ("Sword Bearers") is associated with al-Qaida and is also active in the area. Their purported aim is to establish an independent Muslim state in the South Philippines.