In order to keep the attention focused on the plight of Fr. Tom, the Indian Salesian priest kidnapped in Yemen in March, the Bishops' Conference has organized a day of prayer January the 21 and 22 next, depending on the activities of the individual dioceses.
In an official note Card. Baselios Cleemis, CBCI president, recalls
"the anguish prayer” with which people await news of the "release" of
the missionary who has been in the hands of his kidnappers for more than
"The Indian bishops' conference - writes the cardinal - is in constant
contact with the Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and the ministry, asking
to speed up the process for the liberation of our beloved p. Tom ". He
confirms the rumors filtered in recent days, that would come
"assurances" under which the Indian Salesian "is alive and safe."
Card. Cleemis confirms the 'concerns' of the Indian Church and publishes
an appeal to authorities to "do everything possible" to secure the
release of a "generous and unselfish" man.
After months of silence, at the end of December a video was posted
online showing Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, the Salesian Indian kidnapped by an
extremist commando attributable to the Islamic State (IS) in early March
in southern Yemen. In the video
posted online, the clergyman states his name and says, "I may need
Reading from a prepared text, he warns that his
captors have tried several times to contact the Indian government, the
president and the prime minister but "in vain" and that "nothing was
done" for his release.
For the past ten months, Fr Tom Uzhunnalil has been in the hands of
the Jihadi group, likely linked to IS, that stormed a home for the sick
and elderly run by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, in southern
Yemen. In the attack, four sisters of Mother Teresa and 12 other people were killed.
Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Francesco Cereda, Vicar and Rector
Major of the Salesians, says the tday of prayer launched by the Indian
Bishops' Conference is an "important initiative".
It shows, the priest
adds, "the interest of the Catholic Church in India and around the
world" for "Fr. Tom’s fate" and although it will not have" immediate
effect "it will serve to" keep people aware of those who are persecuted
because of their faith. "
The prayer continues Fr. Cereda, "asks God to make His will be done. We
pray that our brother be released, but we are willing to accept all of
the Lord’s plans. In this sense, prayer has to be at peace with future
On 13 January, the Salesian family also started a novena prayer for the
release of Fr.Tom.
On January 24 there will be a solemn invocation to
Mary Help of Christians "too aid and participate in the release of the
The kidnappers recent released of the video confirming
that Fr. Tom is still alive is positive. "There are signals - said Fr.
Cereda - indicating that there is an ongoing attempt at dialogue; if
there are open doors it is better that we do not interfere or disturb.
We continue to pray, inviting those who can to continue with the
channels of contact. "
"Fr. Tom is not forgotten - said the vicar of the Rector Major of the
Salesians - starting from the Salesian family who have mobilized with
meditation and prayer. We keep hope alive, in the words of Pope Benedict
XVI when he says that prayer is essential in times of difficulty to
keep hope alive".