Fr. Thom Uzhunnalil in an undated photo. Photo/Facebook via Thom Uzhunnalil

Priest abducted, said to have been crucified, said to be alive

By  Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service
  • May 4, 2016

ROME – A Catholic priest abducted in Yemen in a deadly attack on a nursing home is reportedly alive and could soon be released, contradicting earlier reports that he was crucified on Good Friday.

Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil was captured by gunmen on March 4 in an attack on the Aden complex that left four nuns and eight others dead.

There were subsequent rumours that the Indian priest was to be executed by crucifixion, like Jesus, by his captors, who have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group.

Church officials criticized the viral spread of those rumours, especially by commentators in the West, saying they threatened the priest’s safety and undermined efforts to find information about his status.

Bishop Paul Hinder, the apostolic vicar of Southern Arabia, said May 3 that sources had finally confirmed Uzhunnalil was still alive.

“The last words, which are quite reassuring, I received indirectly about 10 days ago. I was told that Fr. Tom is alive, and that his return to freedom could be imminent. But since then nothing has happened. We hope and pray for him,” Hinder told the Fides news agency. 

Local security agents are said to be involved in negotiations for the priest’s release, Fides reported.

After the attack on the Yemen nursing home, operated by the Missionaries of Charity order, Pope Francis described the nuns as “today’s martyrs.”

“These people are victims of an attack by those who killed them but they are also victims of indifference, of this globalization of indifference,” the Pope also said, in a criticism of the lack of attention the killings had drawn.

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