Report: Bibles for Mideast
A video with Father Tom Uzhunnalil, an Indian Catholic priest has been released by his captors in which the abducted Indian priest calls upon Pope Francis and also the President and Prime Minister of India to do more to save him. In the video, Fr. Tom says nothing is being done to save him, and wonders if this is because he Indian.
Father Tom had been working in a retirement home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Port City of Edan in Yemen back on March 4, when militants stormed his workplace, killing fifteen people, including four nuns. The priest was taken hostage.
His captors threatened to kill him almost immediately, while Church and government officials scrambled to locate him and determine if he was alive or dead. On Good Friday, the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schonborn, said that Father Tom had been crucified. The news was shocking, but the premature report proved false.
Since then, there has been virtually no news about him. His loved ones have waited for news of his fate, unsure if they will see him alive ever again.
On the day after Christmas, the priest has appeared in a video made by his captors. His statements are painful to hear. It is obvious that the captors are wearing him down and he is losing hope.
"If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered of much value," he said in the video.
"Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating.... I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously."
"I am from India and not considered. Dear people, I pray you all, ask you all, beg you all to do your might to help me to save my life. I need hospitalization soon. Please come to my help quickly," he begged.
For their part, Indian officials say they are working hard to secure his release, but that the process takes time. They have not specified what efforts are underway, nor what demands the terrorists have made.
For now, it remains up to the Indian government and Pope Francis to negotiate the priest's release. The rest of us must do our part to secure his release though prayer. We must also petition the Church and the government of India to do more to save Fr. Tom, a humble priest whose only purpose was to comfort the elderly. He does not deserve to be imprisoned for his Christian faith.
"We have spared no effort and we will spare no effort to secure Fr Tom's release from captivity. The government will do everything to resolve to bring him back," Sushama Swaraj, the External Affairs Minister of India tweeted after seeing Father Tom’s video.
Please pray for Tom Uzhunnalil’s soon release.