In an unprecedented admission, a senior Vatican official has confirmed that Pope Francis authorised the payment of a ransom for an Italian nun abducted in Syria in 2013. The admission is the first time the Vatican has acknowledged making payments for the release of a hostage.
Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that the Pope had authorised the payment of a ransom for the release of Sister Paola Carlini, who was taken captive by an extremist group during a visit to Syria in 2013.
Archbishop Gallagher said that the Vatican had pursued a “diplomatic path” to secure Sister Carlini’s release and that the Pope had taken the “extraordinary step” of authorising the payment of a ransom. He said the ransom was paid “in a way that was not incompatible with the dignity of the Church” and that the money had been raised through donations.
The Archbishop added that the Vatican had taken the same approach in other cases of hostages held in Syria. The admission is the first time the Vatican has acknowledged paying a ransom for the release of a hostage, a practice it has long sought to avoid.