ROME — Freed hostage Father Lawrence M. Jenco arrived in Rome today for an audience with Pope John Paul II and said he will ask the pontiff to help negotiate the release of other hostages.
Jenco also said he will deliver to John Paul a message from the Muslim extremists who held him hostage in Lebanon for nearly 19 months.
"Before I left Lebanon . . . my captors asked me to speak to (the Pope)," the weary-looking priest said, speaking in a soft voice.
Jenco, who arrived here on a U.S. Air Force jet from Frankfurt, West Germany, was asked by reporters whether he will ask the Pope during the private audience Wednesday to help in the negotiations.
"I'm sure that will be one of the items I'll speak to him about," he said. "There are also some things which I've been asked to say to him by the people who were holding us."
Several members of Jenco's family and Terry Waite, a special envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, accompanied the former hostage. Jenco is scheduled to fly to London on Wednesday evening to meet with the Anglican archbishop.
Ambassador at Airport
The priest, 51, was greeted at the airport by U.S. Ambassador Maxwell Rabb; the acting U.S. charge d'affaires to the Vatican, Peter Murphy, and Father Michael Sincerny, the head of the Servites of Maria religious order to which the Joliet, Ill., native belongs.
Jenco, freed Saturday, addressed his former captors in a 10-minute statement at the U.S. Rhein-Main Air Base, near Frankfurt, before departing for Rome. He addressed them as Haj, Said and Ahab.
He named Haj when he spoke of the videotape of hostage David Jacobsen, 55, of Huntington Beach, Calif., which the former hostage carried with him when released.
Jenco also thanked Said for "last-minute counsel" he provided.
"The small crucifix Ahab gave me was a great comfort during those final hours," Jenco said of the end of his ordeal.
Jenco, dressed in a traditional priest's dark suit with Roman collar, smiled and waved at a small crowd of well-wishers at Frankfurt airport.
'Will Be Personal Letter'
He said of the Americans still held by Shia zealots:
"Please let them know I will be a personal letter to their loved ones. Since neither I nor Terry nor David knew that I was to be released, I did not have a chance to hug and kiss them and to bid them farewell."
The three American hostages, seized in separate kidnapings last year, are Terry Anderson, 38, chief Middle East correspondent of the Associated Press; Jacobsen, director of the American University Hospital in Beirut, and Thomas Sutherland, 55, of Fort Collins, Colo., the university's acting dean of agriculture.