JERUSALEM – Roman Catholic officials say a Franciscan priest who had been abducted by militants in Syria has been freed.
The Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custodian of the Catholic Church's properties in the Holy Land, said the priest, Rev. Dhiya Azziz, was released late Monday. In a statement Tuesday, the custodian's office said the priest was abducted by jihadis who had hoped to "profit" from the abduction.
The statement did not elaborate, and it was not clear which of the multiple militant groups in Syria had been holding the priest and whether a ransom had been paid.
Sir, the news agency of the Italian bishops' conference, said the Iraqi-born Azziz was abducted on Dec. 23 as he travelled from Turkey to the town of Yacoubiyeh in Syria's northwestern Idlib province.