20 February 2018

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03/29/2016 YEMEN

For Vicar of Arabia, Fr Tom is still alive; rumours of his crucifixion are false

Mgr Hinder hints at "strong" signs that jihadists are still holding the Salesian. He rejects claims that the priest was killed, noting however that attempts to free him remain difficult. Over the weekend, some media falsely reported the Indian priest’s crucifixion.

Sanaa (AsiaNews) – There are "strong" signs that Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, the Indian priest held by Jihadists since 4 March after they attacked the compound of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, is "still alive”, said Mgr Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia*.

Hence, the Vicariate continues to reject rumours, including pictures, that emerged last week about the clergyman’s crucifixion on Good Friday, deeming them unsubstantiated.

Bishop Hinder himself has strongly denied the unconfirmed claims, noting that "so far no one has provided reliable evidence" that the priest was killed.

Speaking about ongoing attempts to secure Fr Tom’s release, he noted nothing could be said yet. Instead, he called on the faithful to pray because “we are at a difficult stage”.

A jihadist group, probably linked to the Islamic State (IS) group, seized Fr Tom Uzhunnalil on 4 March when it attacked a Missionaries of Charity facility, killing four sisters of Mother Teresa and 12 lay people in Aden, southern Yemen.

So far, nothing is known of the fate of the 56-year-old priest. Born in Ramapuram, near Pala (Kottayam, Kerala), He comes from a deeply Catholic family and had been in Yemen for four years. His uncle Matthew, who died last year, was also a Salesian, and the founder of the mission in Yemen.

Early last week, unsubstantiated stories began circulating in India claiming that the kidnappers planned to torture, kill and crucify the priest on Good Friday, the day when Christians mark Christ’s passion and death.

Such unconfirmed rumours have led to repeated denials by the Salesians and the Vicariate of Arabia, but have helped fuel fears about the Indian priest’s fate. 

In view of the situation, the Salesian Family called on the faithful to pray for Fr Tom on Holy Thursday and during the main Easter celebrations.

Since then, several blogs and media outlets reported that IS had crucified Fr Uzhunnalil on Good Friday. However, the reports were based on a statement Austrian Card Christoph Schönborn of Vienna allegedly made during Easter vigil services. Since then, the cardinal has corrected his alleged statement, saying that the crucifixion had not taken place.  

* The Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia covers the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen.

See also

10/12/2016 10:03:00 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Apostolic Vicar of Arabia: the Jubilee of mercy has brought people closer to faith

Msgr. Hinder speaks of the Holy Year as an occasion for "reconciliation and forgiveness." In an atmosphere of war and violence "forgiveness become increasingly important." A gesture that must also embrace those who "deny rights and inflict suffering." Thousands of faithful attend Advent Masses. Immigration "contaminates" the very life of the Church.

05/06/2017 17:53:00 YEMEN
Vicar to S Arabia: Yemen’s “disastrous” situation, caught between war and cholera

According to WHO, almost 74,000 cases of cholera have been reported with more than 600 dead (40 per cent children). Up to 300,000 people are at risk. Every ten minutes a child under five dies. Health facilities are on the verge of collapse. Bishop Hinder calls for prayer and silent help for Christians and Muslims. It's hard to bring aid, but keep attention must be kept alive.

22/03/2016 13:55:00 YEMEN - GULF
Msgr. Hinder: Christians of Arabia praying for Fr. Tom’s release

The vicariate responds to the appeal of the Salesian family, launched yesterday by Rector Major. Prayer meetings for kidnapped priest and slaughtered nuns. A special moment of recollection expected at the end of the Mass "in Cena Domini". "Still under strong shock; a thought to the Christians in Yemen who are without a shepherd".


25/10/2010 LAOS
First ordination in northern Laos in forty years
On 12 December the ordination of Father Pierre Buntha Silaphet, by the Apostolic Bishop Tito Banghong will take place in the Apostolic Vicariate of Luang Prabang.

13/02/2007 NEPAL
Elevation to Apostolic Vicariate, “pope’s gift to Nepal”
The Catholic community is happy but Hindus and Buddhists have also expressed their appreciation. They see the pope’s decision as a symbol of rediscovered secularism after the former Hindu theocracy.

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