YEMEN, India (ChurchMilitant.com) - A priest kidnapped from Yemen in March is pleading for his life and seeking the help of Pope Francis to secure his release. In a video released Monday, December 26, Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian priest from Kerala, India, is seen in the video looking gaunt, unshaven and weak as he expresses sorrow that little has been done to free him.
"Several months have gone by and my captors have made many contacts with the government of India to get me released," he said in the video. "I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously in my regard."
It's the first communication received from him since his abduction March 4 by Muslim gunmen after they stormed a convent in Aden in southern Yemen, killing four Missionary Sisters of Charity and 12 lay employees. According to the superior of the convent, who witnessed the events and was able to escape, the priest consumed all the Sacred Hosts before the Islamic militants grabbed him. They destroyed the sacred vessels, tabernacle and altar in the chapel before dragging the 56-year-old priest into a van.
ISIS dressed in blue came in, killed guard and driver. Five young Ethiopian men (Christian) began running to tell the Sisters ISIS was here to kill them. They were killed one by one. They tied them to trees, shot them in the head and smashed their heads. ...
Meanwhile at the convent, Father had heard the screaming and consumed all the Hosts. He had no time to consume the large Host so he threw the oil out of the sanctuary lamp and dissolved it in the water. A neighbor saw them put Father Tom in their car. They did not find any trace of Father anywhere. All the religious articles were smashed and destroyed — Our Lady, Crucifix, Alter, Tabernacle, lectionary stand — even their prayer books and Bibles.
Sister Sally went on to say "their blood will be the seeds for peace in the Middle East and to stop ISIS."
According to the same testimony, Fr. Uzhunnalil was in the habit of telling the sisters at the convent daily, "Let us be ready for martyrdom."
Since the release of the video, India is vowing to "spare no effort" to free the priest.
"I have seen the video from Father Tom," tweeted External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday. "He is an Indian citizen and the life of every Indian is most precious for us. ... We will spare no effort to secure Father Tom's release from captivity."