Published: Fri, September 15, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Father Tom Uzhunnalil reaches Vatican, confirms Sushma Swaraj

Father Tom Uzhunnalil reaches Vatican, confirms Sushma Swaraj

In July 2017, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj also met Abdulmalik Abduljalil Al-Mekhlafi, Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister in Delhi, where he asserted that "Father Tom is alive and the Yemeni Government has been making all efforts to secure him" according to an MEA release.

The Pope lifted Father Tom to his feet and kissed his hands.

He ‎was abducted on March ‎‎4, 2016 when four unidentified gunmen attacked a care home in Yemen's ‎southern port city of Aden, ‎killing 16 people, including four Missionaries of Charity sisters of Mother ‎Teresa.

Fr Joyce Thonikuzhiyil, the superior of the Salesian province of Bangalore, also thanked the government and the bishops for their efforts.

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Due to the necessity of immediate medical examinations, he was not able to celebrate Mass right away, but he asked if he could go to confession before the medical staff arrived, since he not had the opportunity while in captivity.

"We would not like to share any more details about this at this time, and will wait for the Government of India to make a statement".

Also present at the meeting was Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, who told L'Osservatore Romano that "after this bad experience, the essential message Father Tom wants to convey is that 'Jesus is great and he loves us'". Cleemis, who is also CBCI president, told AsiaNews. Cardinal Gracias said that the priest was in "good" health, adding that during his 18-month captivity he did not have any particular problem and was treated well. The minister's statement comes amid reports that it was the government of Oman that played a crucial role in the release of the 57-year-old priest from Kottayam.

Sr Mary Prema, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, whose sisters had Fr Tom as their chaplain in Aden, issued a statement saying: "I am overwhelmed with this good news".

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Speaking to the media, Father P. Varghese, spokesperson of the congregation to which Uzhunnallil belongs, said on Wednesday that it would take a while for the rescued priest to return to India. He was released from the captivity just a day before. He thanked everyone who helped to get him released.

The Vatican press office released a statement following his release saying: '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'.

On Wednesday L'Osservatore Romano published a picture (shown above) of Fr Tom receiving a personal blessing from Pope Francis.

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