Sultan Qabus's commitment to securing the release was decisive. The priest was traced thanks to "some Yemeni parties". Fr. Tom will be in Rome for a few days. The "strength in faith and perseverance" of his family. Today Salesian homes around the world, will celebrate with a Mass of Thanksgiving and Eucharistic adoration.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The Holy See fervently thanks all those who worked for his release, and especially His Majesty the Sultan of Oman and the competent authorities of the Sultanate": These are the few lines released last night , with which the Vatican announced the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, 18 months after his kidnapping in Aden (Yemen).
The Press Office also announced that "the religious will remain for a few days in a Salesian community in Rome before going home to India".
Indeed, the work of the authorities in Muscat was decisive. Fr Tom had been kidnapped on March 4, 2016, following the attack on Mother Teresa's hospice for the elderly in Aden, costing four nuns and 12 other people their lives. The violent attack was attributed to Islamist terrorists, but has never been claimed by any group, not even al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula.
According to the Omani news agency Ona, the authorities of Muscat managed to secure the release the "Vatican employee" priest after locating him in "coordination with some Yemeni parties". The search for Fr. Tom had been launched on the "instructions by Sultan Qabus [of Omman]" and at the request of the Vatican.
Oman cultivates balanced relations with all parties in conflict in Yemen and in recent years has managed to secure the liberation of several people who have been abducted or have disappeared in the country at war.
The Indian government spared no efforts for the release of Fr. Tom. In addition to thanking the bishops, the government has also received the thanks of Fr. Joyce Thonikuzhiyil, superior of the Salesian province of Kerala.
In a statement published last night, the superior also thanks the family for "their strength in faith and for perseverance." He proposed that today, in all Salesian Houses, a Mass of Thanksgiving and half an hour of Eucharistic adoration be celebrated.
The priest, released after 18 months of kidnapping in Yemen, will remain in the Vatican "to secure his wellbeing and allow for his full recovery." Father Tom tried to kiss Pope Francis' feet, who raised him and kissed his hands. "I've always felt Jesus next to me." Renewed thanks to the sultan of Oman. The Major Rector: No ransom was paid.
The superior of the Aden community has entrusted to a sister the dramatic story of the assault on the nursing home for the elderly and disabled. The sisters were killed because of their "fidelity" to their mission, by being found ready "to welcome their Spouse”. A blood sacrifice in the hope that it will bring about "shoots of peace for the Middle East and help stop Isis". The signed letter (PDF).
A day of prayer organized by the Bishops' Conference. The initiative was also joined Protestant communities. Rev. Thomas Jacob: "Let us pray for him to return home safely." Hundreds of faithful at candlelight vigil organized at Our Lady’s Cathedral Trivandrum.
On January 21 and 22 the Bishops' Conference has invoked a day of prayer for the liberation of the Salesian missionary. Card. Cleemis: We await with "anguish and prayer," news of his "release", that he is "alive and safe." Salesian Vicar: Amid the difficulties prayer is "essential" to "keep hope alive".
Since March 4 last, the Indian Salesian has been in the hands of an Islamic State commando. Yesterday, the kidnappers released a video, in which he appeals to Francis, the Indian government and Catholics worldwide. He adds: "I urgently need medical attention." Delhi assures: Regular contact with local authorities and regional powers.