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Indian Church reacts to release of abducted Indian priest

Indian Church reacts to release of abducted Indian priest”

Liberated Salesian missionary Father Tom Uzhunnalil bowed down to kiss the feet of Pope Francis at his Santa Marta residence this morning, after today's weekly general audience.

Father Uzhunnalil thanked the pope, telling him that "he prayed every day for him, offering his suffering for his mission and the good of the church". These words, the newspaper reports, moved the Pope to tears.

He said Fr. Uzhunnalil will stay with them for a few days in order to ensure that he has medical treatment and time to rest, and also "to be able to embrace him in the name of all brother Salesians and the entire Salesian family".

An Indian Catholic priest who was kidnapped by militants from a home for senior citizens in Yemen has been rescued after 18 months, an Indian official said Tuesday.

Uzhunnalil was accompanied by the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who was in Rome for the meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals.

In comments to L'Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that after this "terrible experience, the essential message that Tom is about to convey is that 'Jesus is great and loves us'".

In comments to L'Osservatore Romano, Fr. Uzhunnalil said he couldn't celebrate Mass while in captivity, but "every day inside, in my heart, I repeated the words of the celebration".

People flocked to St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica in the city on Tuesday to participate in a special thanksgiving service conducted after the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil from captivity in Yemen. But for what he has lost in weight, Fr Uzhunnalil appears to have gained in aura. He said the militants "shifted the camp three times after the abduction" and blindfolded him every time during each transfer.

There were about 80 residents at the home at the time of the attack. One sister said she wanted to live for Jesus, and she "miraculously escaped" when the terrorists attacked the next day, Father Tom said.

Father Tom Uzhunnalil's release from the captivity of the Islamic State was made possible at the end of "extremely complicated diplomatic efforts" by India, Union minister Alphons Kannanthanam said here on Wednesday.

Alphons said this in response to questions related to the role of the Indian government in getting the release of the abducted priest. "The minister of one state in our country does not go to another state to meet an official", he said, adding that the prestige of the country is more important.



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