December 15, 2016

Update on Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, the Priest Kidnapped by ISIS During Yemen Attack in March

Missionaries of Charity
From L-R: Sr. Anselm, Sr. Reginette, Sr. Judith, Sr. Marguerite.

A petition on to Zeid bin Ra'ad, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the President of India asks them to facilitate the release of Fr. Uzhunnalil, the Indian priest held by ISIS since March. The petition page states:

"It has been 6 months since Father Tom Uzhunnalil's kidnapping in Yamen. Indian foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (quoted by Asia News May 18) said 'Father Tom Uzhunnalil is alive and 'safe', and 'last efforts' are being made to 'ensure his release'. But he is still missing and we have no information about him.

Father Tom was seized on the 4th of March after a militant group stormed into a home for the sick and elderly, run by the Blessed Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of the Charity in Aden, ... Four sisters of the religious congregation (pictured) and 12 lay people, were killed in the attack on the facility. (More on the attack here.)

A picture of Fr. Tom appeared on his Facebook page on the 19th of July. Fr Tom appears very weak in the photo posted, under the caption, his request will be uploaded soon. A video posted on social media allegedly shows a blindfolded Fr Tom being assaulted by the kidnappers."

This is Pope Francis' response to the attack appealing for an end to violence:

"His Holiness Pope Francis was shocked and profoundly saddened to learn of the killing of four Missionaries of Charity and twelve others at a home for the elderly in Aden. He sends the assurance of his prayers for the dead and his spiritual closeness to their families and to all affected from this act of senseless and diabolical violence.  He prays that this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart, and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue. In the name of God, he calls upon all parties in the present conflict to renounce violence, and to renew their commitment to the people of Yemen, particularly those most in need, whom the Sisters and their helpers sought to serve. Upon everyone suffering from this violence, the Holy Father invokes God’s blessing, and in a special ways he extends to the Missionaries of Charity his prayerful sympathy and solidarity."

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