Kidnapped Colombian nun pleads Pope for help in new hostage video

(Reuters/Joe Penney)A woman stands in front of posters of Pope Francis at the Martyrs of Uganda church in Bamako, Mali, November 8, 2015.

A Colombian nun who was abducted in Mali nearly a year ago has appeared in a new hostage video and has reportedly called on Pope Francis to help secure her release.

Franciscan Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti, who was kidnapped on Feb. 7, 2017 in southern Mali, appeared on a four-minute video that was believed to be created by two local terrorist organizations affiliated with Al Qaeda.

The Al-Akhbar agency, which is known for regularly receiving and broadcasting press releases from jihadist groups in the Sahel region, has published the message in the video, but it has not released the footage itself.

In the video, Argoti reportedly addressed the pope, asking him to intervene for her release and congratulating him on his recent tour of Latin America. She noted that her captivity comes at a time when Christians are celebrating Christmas, suggesting that the video may have been recorded in late December.

According to Africa News, the video also featured former hostages who have been released by jihadist groups after negotiations.

The Colombian National Police has stated earlier this month that it has been working with the Vatican police to secure the nun's release and has met in Holland to exchange information.

"The Pope is aware of what Colombia is doing and to what point we've come to obtain her release," said General Fernando Murillo of the Colombian National Police's hostage and extortion unit.

Murillo asserted that the abduction was carried out for ransom purposes, but the authorities do not know the specific amount being asked for Argoti's release.

The video reportedly concluded with a proposal from the jihadists "to negotiate through independent charitable organizations outside the colonialist force."

Mgr. Jean-Baptiste Tiama, Bishop of Sikasso, in Mali, said that he was happy to see Argoti alive and said that the video will encourage the Church to continue praying for her release.

"It comforted us to see that Sister Gloria appears in good condition and the fact that she referred to the Pope's trip to Chile and Peru makes us think that the video is recent. And this gives us much hope," the bishop told  Agenzia Fides.

The bishop went on to say that "next week, a year after the abduction of Sister Gloria, we will hold a prayer vigil. The entire diocesan community will go to the place of the abduction to pray and ask for the release of the religious."

Argoti, who had been working as a missionary in southern Mali for six years prior to her abduction, last appeared in a video broadcast in July 2017 by the "Groupe de soutien à l' Islam et aux musulmans."

The July 2017 video featured five other foreign hostages, including two other missionaries from Switzerland and Australia.

Argoti's community operates a large health center in Mali, as well as a home that cares for about 30 orphans between one and two years of age. In addition to her ministry, the nuns also teach literacy to about 700 Muslim women and are working on a barn project in an effort to prepare for food shortages.

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