New Dehli (Agenzia Fides) - "First of all, we express our deep gratitude to God for the happy conclusion of this incident. We must then thank the Indian government, which put into place every effort for the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, the Indian Salesian kidnapped over a year ago in Yemen. And we also need to thank Pope Francis' personal commitment. Fr. Tom is free and is now on his way to the Vatican": says to Agenzia Fides Bishop Thedore Mascarenhas, Secretary General of the Bishops' Conference of India, confirming to Fides Agency the news published today of the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, the Salesian abducted on March 4, 2016 in Aden, in the attack where 16 people died, including 4 religious women of the Missionaries of Charity.
The Bishop tells Fides: "It was a difficult and very delicate incident to handle. Only God's Providence and His blessing managed to lead to a happy outcome. Millions of people prayed in the world for the release of Fr. Tom and today we can tell everyone: this is the power of prayer".
The Secretary General then expressed "deep gratitude to Bishop Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, under whose jurisdiction Yemen is situated: we kept in constant contact and never lost hope of his release; let us also thank the President of our Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, who at every meeting and occasion always reminded the Prime Minister of India of the urgency of doing the best to bring back Fr. Tom at home safe and sound".
The Indian Church expresses "immense gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and to Srimati Sushma Swaraj, Minister of Foreign Affairs, for having worked tirelessly for the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil. In several meetings, the Foreign Minister assured us that the government would do everything possible to release him".
"We cannot forget - concludes Bishop Mascarenhas - Major Rector and Provincial Salesian of the Province of Bangalore, for their patience and for their deep faith. We pray for the full recovery of Fr. Tom, sure that he will be able to resume his priestly and pastoral ministry, dedicating himself to God and his people. His release really gives immense joy to the whole Church in India". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 12/9/2017)