Statement from the publisher: blessing in Jill's release

Uncountable have been the cumulative prayers and pleas, the messages of support and tears of concern shed for Jill Carroll over the past three months. Today, we cry tears of joy for her release.

Along with you - the millions of compassionate individuals representing so many faiths and nationalities, and especially the readers of The Christian Science Monitor and its website who've stood with Jill during her captivity - our hearts are full of gratitude to God for this breakthrough. We cannot help but think of the opening line of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by the Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy: "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings."

And yet, the immense efforts to secure one reporter's release ultimately must be for some larger cause, for something beyond the one news bulletin we've longed to hear every day since Jan. 7, when Jill was captured and her translator was killed. Anyone who is being held captive, out of any willful passion or purpose, should be freed. Those who have been kidnapped before and after Jill must have their freedom, too. In fact, even kidnappers themselves deserve freedom from the kind of imprisonment their lives represent.

We hope and trust in the power of divine grace: That continued prayer - and political and diplomatic efforts somehow moved by this profound mental and spiritual force - will help eradicate the whole plague of kidnapping and terrorism, of violent action and reaction. The people of a region known as "the cradle of civilization" have rights beyond the human and political to enjoy the blessings of a civil and calm society.

We're deeply thankful for the monumental labors that went on in agencies and offices of the United States government, within the government of Iraq, and among individuals in Iraq and worldwide. To everyone who offered private and published messages of support along the way, you have our heartfelt thanks.

The entire staff of this newspaper, in particular its international editors, writers, and management, worked virtually around the clock on Jill's behalf. Their extraordinary work during this difficult period made it possible to continue publishing a news product worthy of the Monitor's name and reputation.

What can be said of Jill's mother, father, and sister that could speak any louder than their public example of steadfast love and resolute advocacy? And their sincere concern for others being held captive concurrently with Jill? We rejoice in their long-awaited happy reunion with their daughter and sister.

It is a sad fact, however, that many kidnappings in Iraq have not turned out as favorably as this one. We're also mindful of concerns that have been raised about Jill's mental and emotional state after weeks of duress. Whatever may be needed to help her re-adjust will be provided.

Prayer and brotherly-sisterly love have proved their potency. What greater good can be accomplished if we stay with them? One sure effect is the softening of hardened hearts, mostly, of course, in the ones doing the praying. In the spirit of doing unto others what we would want done unto us - that is, in the Golden Rule that is found in every major religion - we reach out to Jill's captors and those who still hold others hostage. May they find a purpose closer to that for which Jill Carroll is now known - constructive, street-level compassion for all the people of Iraq, and an unbiased love for all mankind.

A loved Bible proverb says, "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Jill Carroll's freedom is truly good news to rejoice in, as is the fact to so many of us today: Iraq is no longer a "far country."

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