Abducated Salesian Fr Tom Uzhunnalil appeals for help
In a video, whose source still not confirmed, shows abducted Salesian Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, 56, pleading for help to his own Indian government and to Pope Francis. Neither the Catholic Church of India or the Vatican has made declarations about the worrying message of the Salesian priest who was kidnapped by a militant group on March 4, 2016 that is allegedly linked to ISIS. In the tragic event 4 Indian sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, two Yemeni female staff members, eight elderly residents and a guard were killed inside a shelter for elderly people in the port city of Aden. The Salesian presence in Yemen is under the Province of Bangalore, India, leading pastoral programs despite ongoing violence and civil war. At the time, the Salesian superiors in India, as well as the Indian government, requested prudence in the spread of information about the whereabouts of Fr Tom that could put his life in danger. However, after 9 months of martyrdom, Fr Tom still on the hands of his captors. External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj said to the press that her government will spare not effort to secure the release of the Catholic priest, according to The Economic Times. “I have seen the video from Fr Tom. He is an Indian citizen and the life of every Indian is most precious for us. We got Fr Alex Prem Kumar and Judith D’Souza released from Afghanistan,” said the Minister.
The family of Fr Tom confirmed that it is him in fact, according to Times of India. An online petition to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has been created (please sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/save-fr-tom-uzhunnalil). In the dramatic video, Fr Tom seems discouraged for the fact that it is already too long his captivity and nothing has been done to secure his release. He even mentions that the fact that he is not an European, seems to be an element of global indifference: “If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered as of much value,” he said.
Fr Tom directs also his message to Pope Francis: “Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating“. Catholic Online invites people to pray for the release of Fr Tom:
We invoke the intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe, and humbly petition thee for a miracle.
We ask that your servant, Fr. Tom be freed, and his health and faith restored.
May he know we have not forgotten him, we fervently pray for his release.
May all Christians who endure persecution for their faith
Find refuge and reinforcement in your strength, O Lord, Our God.
We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Our Salesians communities in Cambodia join the prayer for the release of Fr Tom, as well as we ask his captors to feel compassion and set Father free, a man of Peace and commitment for the poor.