Fr. Tom earlier picture (left), latest (right)
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 the Prime Minister of India to do more to save him. In the video, Fr. Tom says noting is being done to save him, may be because he is an Indian.
Fr. Tom was 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. Fr. Tom 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 Fr. Tom had been crucified. The news was shocking, but the premature report proved false.
Since then, there has been virtually no news about Fr. Tom. His loved ones have waited for news of his fate, unsure if they will see him alive ever again.
Now, the day after Christmas, Fr. Tom has appeared in a video made by his captors. His statements are painful to hear. It is obvious that Fr. Tom's 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," Fr. Tom 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," Fr. Tom 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, or what demands the terrorists have.
For now, it remains up to the Indian government and Pope Francis to negotiate the release of Fr. Tom. It is up to the rest of us to do our part to secure his release though prayer. We must 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.