02 Sep 2015 Europe News No comments

Stay out of political campaigns, Ukrainian Catholic leader reminds priests

As Ukraine prepares for local elections on October 25, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, reminded priests t…

Read more

01 Oct 2015 News Vatican No comments

Vatican astronomer: Discoveries on Mars may reveal God’s personality

NASA scientists have confirmed that liquid water flows, at least during the summer months, on the surface of Mars A Vatican astronomer said the latest discov…

Read more

26 May 2016 Vatican No comments

Key passages in Amoris Laetitia recycle article by Argentine ‘ghostwriter’, claims blogger

Controversial passages of the exhortation follow previous writings by Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández New questions have been raised about Pope Francis’s ap…

Read more

24 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (14)

Can a bishop prohibit receiving Communion on the tongue?

Full Question Recently I was attending Mass in another diocese, and when I approached the extraordinary minister of the Eucharist to receive on the tongue…

Read more

23 Jun 2016 Articles No comments

It Was Sin That Killed our Savior

Reflections on Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ We were a dozen men and women from assorted backgrounds and professions seated around a large table…

Read more

05 Sep 2015 Articles Exhortations Family Love Doctor with GM Alimba No comments

Dear Younger Self, Here's 5 Things You Don't Need to Worry About

If I could go back and counsel my younger self, here are the top 5 Do's and Don't s I'd offer: * 1 Don't worry so much about appearances. * 2 Don't try to rai…

Read more

04 Jul 2016 USA Comments (8)

True story behind 'Miracles From Heaven'

Annabel Beam was only 9-years-old when she fell down a hollowed-out tree and landed on her skull. Despite other horror stories in which spines were snapped and …

Read more

26 Nov 2015 Asia-Pacific News No comments

Fr. Cyril Axelrod, world’s only deaf-blind priest speaks at Asia’s first conference for deaf Catholics

Last week at the Catholic pastoral center in the Sam Phran District, Thailand hosted the first international Asian Conference for deaf Catholics titled “Ephatha…

Read more

14 Sep 2015 Middle East - Africa News No comments

Recent South African martyr beatified

Samuel Benedict Daswa (1946-90), a school teacher who was brutally murdered after he denounced witchcraft, was beatified as a martyr near Thohoyandou, South Afr…

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Key bishop: ‘We don’t know’ if Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil is still alive

As the situation in Yemen continues to worsen, Bishop Paul Hinder on Friday requested prayers for priests, for the Missionaries of Charity, and for kidnapped priest Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, whose situation is uncertain.

“I do not know how we can continue in the present situation," said a visibly moved Bishop Hinder. “And pray for Fr. Tom, if he’s dead or not. We don’t know."

The Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia spoke briefly Sept. 2 at the end of a symposium on Mother Teresa, foundress of the Missionaries of Charity, who will be canonized Sunday. The event was hosted by Asia News in Rome. Not originally scheduled to speak, the bishop apologized that his remarks were unprepared, as he had just left his office in Abu Dhabi that morning.

“I suffer due to the situation that has arisen in Yemen, where 7 million people die of hunger; there is security for no one, it’s not a question of being Christians or Muslims," he said. “The insecurity is general in the entire country, caused by the civil war."
The bishop offered an update on Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, an Indian national who was abducted March 4 when four gunmen attacked a Missionaries of Charity-run retirement home in Aden, the provincial capital of Yemen, killing 16 people, including four Missionary of Charity sisters.

It remains unclear who was behind the kidnapping. The plight of Fr. Tom garnered significant international attention when rumors arose that he was to be crucified on Good Friday. However, these rumors were later discredited.

While reports earlier this year indicated that Fr. Tom was safe and perhaps close to release, Bishop Hinder cautioned that the priest’s condition remains unknown.

As the situation in Yemen worsens, they are having difficulty bringing any priests and sisters into the country, the bishop noted, asking for prayers for that intention, explaining that several sisters and their patients had recently been removed from Yemen “for weeks or maybe months," and asked for prayers for the remaining sisters and for priests still waiting to go there but delayed by problems in acquiring visas.

“The community located in Ta’izz had to leave their house, because they found themselves in the middle of two sides of the war and had to move to Sanaa. We are waiting to be able to send them back, but in this moment it is not possible," said the bishop.

“We find ourselves in a situation in which the sisters have lived for months without the Eucharist," he lamented. “And I can imagine the pain that creates for them, if you know Mother Teresa, who will soon be a saint."

Bishop Hinder talked about the bravery of the Missionaries of Charity, even following the martyrdom of four of their sisters. “Some days after the sisters were killed, March 4, I met the only survivor," he said. “The first thing she said to me is: ‘I want to return, as soon as possible and as soon as I have permission.’"

“Imagine this zeal in this situation of martyrdom. It…has entered the Congregation from their foundress," he shared. “My predecessor has met many times with the Mother Superior in Sanaa, and he said: ‘Thanks to you we have priests here with us.’"
The Missionaries of Charity sponsor the visas for the priests in Sanaa and Tais. “I have always admired them: when I went to them in my visits, their spirit of simplicity and joy…I always saw the sisters smiling. My predecessor said: ‘But how do they do it in this situation?’"

The civil war in Yemen began in March 2015. That month Houthi rebels, who are Shia Muslims, took over portions of Yemen seeking to oust its Sunni-led government.

Saudi Arabia, which borders Yemen’s north, has led a coalition backing the government. Both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have set up strongholds in the country amid the power vacuum.

The civil war has killed more than 6,000 people, according to the United Nations.

“I invite you to pray for the priests and that others can unite to them. The mission in the state of war, despite the difficulty, must continue," Bishop Hinder said.

“Fr. Tom was abducted: he had returned to Yemen, asking me and the provincial for permission. I told him: ‘If you want, I will help you enter my country.’ Certainly today it’s painful to think about," he said.

“But I am still convinced it was right. In war you can never predict what happens."

By Hannah Brockhaus


Leave a Reply

  1. most read post
  2. Most Commented
  3. Choose Categories