Pope Paul has made a personal appeal to the kidnappers of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro.
LV: Pope Paul speaking from balcony.
LV: Pope blessing crowd.
Church sources said the Vatican was ready to play an active role in negotiations as long as the Pope was not used by the Brigades simply for publicity value. Leaders of Signor Moro's Christian Democratic Party have already rejected any deal with the guerrillas.
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Background: Pope Paul has made a personal appeal to the kidnappers of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro. In his blessing in St Peter's Square, on Sunday (2 April) he begged those responsible for what he called "this terrifying attack" to release their victim.
SYNOPSIS: The Pope made his appeal amid growing Press speculation in Italy that the former Prime Minister's guerrilla captors plan to start bargaining.
But the Pope, who is a close friend of Signor Moro, indicated that the Vatican was not yet involved in mediation efforts proposed by the former premier himself. Signor Moro has now been missing for 17 days, but the unprecedented police activity to find him seems as ineffective as ever. In a letter from his "People's prison" last Wednesday (29 March), Signor Moro suggested the Vatican might be able to help secure his release.
In his midday blessing to thousands of worshippers the Pope said: "To the unknown authors of this terrifying attack we make a vital and urgent appeal and beg them to release their prisoner." But he added: "We have no specific information about the state of the case." 80-year-old Pontiff's remark apparently came in response to press speculation that the Church is already involved in mediation. Referring to the kidnapping in Rome carried out by guerrillas of the Red Brigades, in which Signor Moro's five bodyguards were shot dead, he said: "Too high a price has already been paid with the blood of five men and the suffering of their families."
The guerrillas have issued three communiques on the kidnapping, but they have not said what they want in return for the politician's freedom.