Video surfaces of priest kidnapped by ISIS

Father Tom Uzhunnalil, an Indian, was kidnapped March 4 from the home for the aged and disabled run by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, Yemen. (CNS photo/courtesy of Salesians)

The emergence of a video in which Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, kidnapped by Islamic State militants in Yemen in March, is seen appealing for his release has led to widespread calls for diplomatic efforts to end his captivity.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, India's minister of state for parliamentary affairs, reiterated to Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, that the government is "doing everything possible" during a meeting at church headquarters in Cochin Dec. 27.

Advertisement

The minister's visit came a day after a five-minute video of a visibly weak Father Uzhunnalil making an emotional appeal for his release. The Salesian hails from India's Kerala state.

In the video, Father Uzhunnalil appeared to blame both the Indian government and church officials for failing to secure his release. He claimed his captors had made several contacts with the Indian government and yet "I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously in my regard."

"If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered as of much value. ... Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating," the priest is seen saying.

Archbishop Maria Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum, president of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council, demanded Father Uzhunnalil's release "without further delay" Dec. 27.

"Not withstanding technicalities involved, the delay is seen by the common people as a lapse on the part of those concerned," he said.

Meanwhile, Father Paul Thelakkat, who ministers in Kerala, called the video of "Father Tom's appeal for his life very painful and distressing," in an interview with Catholic News Service.

"The video clearly indicates that the terrorists are putting more pressure on India and the church to succumb to their demands, whatever they may be," Father Thelakkat said.

Father George Njarakunnel, vicar of Ramapuram parish in the Palai Diocese, said parishioners began praying at the priest's residence after the video became public.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Homeless people are seen in Washington June 22. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., chair of the U.S. bishops' domestic policy committee, released a statement Nov. 17 proclaiming that the House of Representatives "ignored impacts to the poor and families" in passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act the previous day. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
The United States is thwarting the advancement of millions of its citizens, a UN rapporteur says.
Kevin ClarkeDecember 16, 2017
Why not tax individuals for what they take out of society instead of what they contribute?
Paul D. McNelis, S.J.December 15, 2017
Pope Francis will renew the mandate of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors for another three years, informed sources told America this week.
Gerard O’ConnellDecember 15, 2017
Worshippers recite the Lord's Prayer during Mass at Corpus Christi Church in Mineola, N.Y., on Oct. 13. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)
Making ancient Scripture sensible in contemporary languages will always prove a hazard-heavy challenge.
Kevin ClarkeDecember 15, 2017