The Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia in UAE has issued a statement indicating that its bishop has been communicating with negotiators who have been using various channels to secure the release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia is a territorial jurisdiction of the Catholic Church
covering UAE, Oman and Yemen. "The church has got strong indications to
believe that Fr Tom Uzhunnalil is still alive," the statement said,
adding that more details cannot be divulged at this stage.
"The features of the person speaking in the video bear a close
likeness to Fr Tom Uzhunnalil. However the source of the video, the date
of its creation and the circumstances under which it was recorded are
unknown," said the statement.
"The bishop, Paul Hinder,
has led the prayers throughout the churches in the vicariate for Fr Tom
and the other Christians remaining in the country. During the Christmas
mass on the midnight of December 25, the bishop and thousands of
believers who gathered at the cathedral parish of St Joseph's in Abu Dhabi, prayed for the safety of Fr Tom," added the statement.
"We request the faithful not to spread unconfirmed reports on social media but to continue their prayers for Fr Tom, it said.
Augustine Mathew, Fr Tom's cousin, also said that the family had got
information that the priest was alive. "His captors must have been
demanding a ransom. The video was uploaded to convince the world that he
was alive," he said.
The priest's family members will be meeting Syro Malabar Church head
Mar George Cardinal Alencherry in Ernakulam on Thursday. Father Tom was
abducted nearly nine months ago from war-torn Yemen and a video of the
priest pleading for help became viral recently.