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Priest kidnapped in Yemen pleads for help in a video

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Indian Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was kidnapped in Yemen more than a year ago, in a video message pleaded for the Indian government and the Catholic Church to do more to secure his release.

Indian Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was kidnapped in Yemen more than a year ago, is seen in a screen grab from a YouTube video. (CNS)

Indian Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was kidnapped in Yemen more than a year ago, is seen in a screen grab from a YouTube video. (CNS)

The video was posted on YouTube by the news site Aden Time May 8; the heavily bearded and very thin Father Uzhunnalil is shown seated with a cardboard sign in his lap with the date April 15, 2017. A similar video was posted in December.

An official at the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, which includes Yemen, said May 9 the person in the video is the kidnapped Salesian, but he would not comment further. Bishop Paul Hinder, the apostolic vicar, is away from the vicariate headquarters in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on a pastoral visit.

Father Uzhunnalil was kidnapped in Aden March 4, 2016, in an attack in which four Missionaries of Charity and at least 12 others were killed at a home for the aged.

In a meeting May 3 with Salesian novices studying in Italy, Pope Francis once again offered prayers for the kidnapped priest.

In the new video, Father Uzhunnalil began by stating his name and date of birth and thanking “my dear family people” for their messages of concern, which he said he has received.

Without describing his captors or referring to them as such, he said, “they are treating me well to the extent that they are able.”

“My health condition is deteriorating quickly and I require hospitalization as early as possible,” he said.

Father Uzhunnalil said his captors have contacted Indian government authorities “several times” and the replies, which he said he has seen, were “very, very poor.”

“They also contacted the bishop, bishop of Abu Dhabi,” he said. “There, too, the response was not encouraging. Neither the bishop nor the Indian government authorities ask them what they really want to get me released. It is a poor response, and I am sad about that.”

Asking his family and friends to pressure the authorities, he said, “Please, please, do what you what you can to get me released. May God bless you for that.”

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Pope Francis calls nuns killed in Yemen ‘martyrs of charity’

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The four Missionaries of Charity murdered March 4 in Yemen “are the martyrs of today,” Pope Francis said. “They gave their blood for the church.”

After reciting the Angelus with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square March 6, Pope Francis publicly offered his condolences to the Missionaries of Charity and prayed that Blessed Teresa of Kolkata would “accompany to paradise these daughters of hers, martyrs of charity, and that she would intercede for peace and a sacred respect for human life.”

Yemeni pro-government fighters guard outside a Missionaries of Charity elderly home March 4 after unidentified gunmen targeted the home in Aden, Yemen. Four Missionaries of Charity and 10 to 12 other people were killed in the attack. (CNS photo/EPA)

Yemeni pro-government fighters guard outside a Missionaries of Charity elderly home March 4 after unidentified gunmen targeted the home in Aden, Yemen. Four Missionaries of Charity and 10 to 12 other people were killed in the attack. (CNS photo/EPA)

The four Missionaries of Charity and 12 other people were killed by uniformed gunmen, who entered the home the sisters operate for the elderly and disabled in Aden.

The superior of the Missionaries of Charity at the home survived by hiding, according to the Vatican’s Fides news agency. Father Tom Uzhunnalil, an Indian Salesian priest who had been living at the home since Holy Family Parish in Aden was sacked and burned in September, was missing after the attack.

Although the sisters would not make news headlines, Pope Francis said, the martyred sisters “gave their blood for the church.”

The sisters and the 14 others killed “are victims of the attack by those who killed them, but also (victims) of indifference, this globalization of indifference that just doesn’t care,” the pope said.

Yemen has been experiencing a political crisis since 2011 and is often described as being in a state of civil war with members of the Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities vying for power; in the midst of the tensions, terrorist groups have been operating in the country, including groups believed to be associated with the so-called Islamic State and al-Qaida.

Although most Christians have fled the country, a handful of Salesian priests and about 20 Missionaries of Charity chose to stay and continue their ministry.

In a condolence message released March 5 by the Vatican, Pope Francis described the Aden murders as an “act of senseless and diabolical violence.”

The pope “prays that this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart, and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue,” the message said. “In the name of God, he calls upon all parties in the present conflict to renounce violence, and to renew their commitment to the people of Yemen, particularly those most in need, whom the sisters and their helpers sought to serve.”

Bishop Paul Hinder, head of the vicariate of Southern Arabia, which includes Yemen, told AsiaNews, a Rome-based missionary news agency, that at 8:30 a.m. March 4, “persons in uniform” broke into the Aden compound, killing the guard and all employees who tried to stop them. “They then reached the sisters and opened fire.”

Two of the sisters killed were Rwandan, one was from India and one was from Kenya, the bishop said. Father Uzhunnalil apparently was kidnapped, he added.

“The signal was clear: This has to do with religion,” Bishop Hinder said.

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Gunmen kill nuns, elderly and disabled; priest missing in Aden, Yemen

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Four Missionaries of Charity and 10 to 12 other people were killed March 4 after uniformed gunmen entered a home the sisters operate for the elderly and disabled in Aden, Yemen.

Several news outlets reported 16 people were killed, including patients.

Four members of the Missionaries of Charity were killed March 4 along with elderly residents of a home the sisters operate in Yemen, a Middle East country just south of Saudi Arabia. March 4 in Yemen, by gunmen ( CNS file photo)

Four members of the Missionaries of Charity were killed March 4 along with elderly residents of a home the sisters operate in Yemen, a Middle Eastern country just south of Saudi Arabia. March 4 in Yemen, by gunmen ( CNS file photo)

The superior of the Missionaries of Charity at the home survived by hiding, according to the Vatican’s Fides news agency. Father Tom Uzhunnalil, an Indian Salesian priest who had been living at the home since Holy Family parish in Aden was sacked and burned in September, was missing after the attack.

Yemen has been experiencing a political crisis since 2011 and is often described as being in a state of civil war with members of the Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities vying for power; in the midst of the tensions, terrorist groups have been operating in the country, including groups believed to be associated with the so-called Islamic State and al-Qaida.

Although most Christians have fled the country, a handful of Salesian priests and about 20 Missionaries of Charity chose to stay and continue their ministry.

Bishop Paul Hinder, head of the vicariate of Southern Arabia, which includes Yemen, told AsiaNews, a Rome-based missionary news agency, that at 8:30 a.m. March 4, “persons in uniform” broke into the Aden compound, killing the guard and all employees who tried to stop them. “They then reached the sisters and opened fire.”

Two of the sisters killed were Rwandan, one was from India and one was from Kenya, the bishop said. Father Uzhunnalil apparently was kidnapped, he added.

“The signal was clear: This has to do with religion,” Bishop Hinder said.

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