Father Tom Uzhunnalil Released From Imprisonment, Visits Rome

Father Tom Uzhunnalil Released From Imprisonment, Visits Rome

VATICAN CITY – After an incredibly grueling 18 month long imprisonment, Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been released. The Salesian missionary was captured by the Islamic State terrorists in Yemen in 2016, during a vicious attack on the Missionaries of Charity. The attack left sixteen people dead, including four sisters.

After his abduction, false rumors swirled that Father Uzhunnalil would be crucified on Good Friday. But pictures and videos released by his captors proved that he was still alive.

In a video, Father Uzhannalil, who had grown increasingly thin and ill, begged for help and for a quick release from his captors. “They are treating me well to the extent they are able. My health condition is deteriorating quickly and I require hospitalization as early as possible.” Father Uzhannalil suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes.

In a second video in January 2017, Father Uzhunnalil reached out to the Indian government for assistance. On September 12, 2017, Sushma Swaraj, India’s foreign minister, confirmed Father Uzhannalil’s release.

The Vatican released a press statement upon the priest’s release. “The Holy See greatly thanks you for your efforts, especially His Majesty the Sultan of Oman and the competent authorities of the Sultanate.”

Before returning to India, Father Uzhunnalil visited Pope Francis at his Santa Maria residence. Pope Francis had appealed for the release of Father Uzhunnalil since his abduction.

L’Osservatore Romano reported that Father Uzhunnalil told the Pope: “(I) prayed for you every day, offering my suffering for your mission and for the good of the Church.” The newspaper reports that these words about the amazing sacrifice of Father Uzhunnalil moved Pope Francis to tears.

In a video released on Twitter, Father Uzhunnalil thanked all those who prayed for him during his imprisonment.  “God is great, His love is everlasting,” Father said. “He has a purpose in our lives.”