Continuing the chorus of pleas for the release of Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, Catholic bishops in his native Kerala state in southern India came together to pray for the priest kidnapped by suspected Islamic militants in Yemen last March.
All the 57 bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church, who gathered for the church’s synod, organized a special prayer program Jan. 12 at St. Mary’s Cathedral and Basilica in Kochi, the headquarters of the Eastern Catholic Church.
Addressing the bishops and hundreds of Catholics gathered, Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, said they have introduced a prayer for the release of the priest during daily Mass.
The 58-year-old Salesian missionary was abducted from the Missionaries of Charity home for the aged in Aden on March 4 after militants shot and killed 16 people, including four nuns.
The cardinal told the gathering that the Indian government has constituted a three-member team to work for securing the priest’s freedom and that the Catholic Church in India was in constant touch with the government.
Catholics in Kerala intensified their prayers for the kidnap victim after a video showing a bearded man resembling the priest emerged during the Christmas season pleading for help. He accused the Catholic Church and India of not doing enough to secure his release.