Kerala rejoices release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil  

The priest, who is "very weak", is undergoing treatment in Oman. All help will be provided to enable him to reach Kerala, the chief minister said

By: PTI | Thiruvananthapuram | Published: September 12, 2017 9:36 pm
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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday expressed happiness over the release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Catholic priest who was abducted in war-torn Yemen last year, and said his government would provide all possible help for his return to the state. “The intervention of Oman had paved the way for his release, I understand,” Vijayan said in a Facebook post.

The priest, who is “very weak”, is undergoing treatment in Oman. All help will be provided to enable him to reach Kerala, the chief minister said. Former chief minister Oommen Chandy said Keralites had been waiting to hear the news of his release for the last 18 months.

Chandy had met Kerala Governor P Sathasivam along with Father Uzhunnalil’s relatives seeking his intervention to put pressure on the Centre for the priest’s early release. Father Uzhunnalil was abducted in March by Islamic State from port city of Aden after the terror group attacked a care home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

He hails from Bharananganam in Pala in Kottayam. BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan said the release was the result of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s “earnest efforts”. All steps should be taken to bring the priest as early as possible to his home state of Kerala, he said in a statement.

Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar congratulated the Government of Oman and Swaraj on the priest’s release. “Warm welcome to Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil to Kerala. Happy to note that the sustained diplomatic efforts by India on its own and along with the Oman government have yielded results,” he said in a statement.

The release of Father Uzhunnalil is also an example that India won’t tolerate extremist practices at any cost, he said. “We are thankful to the Government of Oman and Sushma Swaraj ji who is always unrelenting in her efforts to bring back every Indian home,” the MP said.

Catholic Bishops Conference of India president and Major Archbishop of the Syro Malankara church Baselious Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos thanked all those who helped in the release of Father Uzhunnalil. “We are all very happy and glad at the release of Fr Tom. On behalf of the CBCI, I thank all those who were involved in his release, especially the central and state governments,” the Cardinal told PTI.

The Cardinal also thanked Pope Francis for the Vatican’s efforts in ensuring the release of the Keralite priest. Cleemis also had a word of praise for the media for “keeping the issue alive”. Latin Catholic church head Archbishop Soosai Pakiyam also rejoiced the release of Father Uzhunnalil. Thanksgiving prayers were also held in some churches as news of the release came in.

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    TNR Nair
    Sep 13, 2017 at 11:47 am
    Finally the Father is rescued. We are happy. Let this not turn into acrimonious debates politically, socially and individually.
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      Ravi
      Sep 12, 2017 at 11:12 pm
      Now father Tom will will self justify by saying that God wanted him to convert in India that's why he is alive and God got him back to India to convert many more Indians. Why can't we live as humans than going around converting everywhere. There are ample amount of Christians who are suffering globally why don't the missionaries go help them first.
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        RR
        Sep 12, 2017 at 10:07 pm
        "My fear is that though Christian friends nowadays do not say or admit it that Hindu religion is untrue, they must harbour in their breast that Hinduism is an error and that Christianity, as they believe it, is the only true religion. So far as one can understand the present (Christian) effort, it is to uproot Hinduism from her very foundation and replace it by another faith." (Gandhiji, Harijan: March 13,1937) "If I had the power and could legislate, I should stop all proselytizing. In Hindu households the advent of a missionary has meant the disruption of the family coming in the wake of change of dress, manners, language, food and drink." (Gandhiji, Harijan: November 5, 1935)
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          RR
          Sep 12, 2017 at 10:04 pm
          "I hold that proselytisation under the cloak of humanitarian work is unhealthy to say the least. It is most resented by people here. Religion after all is a deeply personal thing. It touches the heart… Why should I change my religion because the doctor who professes Christianity as his religion has cured me of some disease, or why should the doctor expect me to change whilst I am under his influence?" (Gandhiji in Young India: April 23, 1931) "As I wander about through the length and breadth of India I see many Christian Indians almost ashamed of their birth, certainly of their ancestral religion, and of their ancestral dress. The aping of Europeans by Anglo-Indians is bad enough, but the aping of them by Indian converts is a violence done to their country and, shall I say, even to their new religion." (Gandhiji in Young India: August 8, 1925)
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            RR
            Sep 12, 2017 at 10:02 pm
            Thanks to the External Affairs Ministry, Govt of India for his safe rescue. In the first place, why did he take such a risk to sell Christianity in Islamic Gulf Countries("spread the gospel of Jesus Christ")? Atleast now onwards, Kerala Priests and nuns should stop deceitfully converting Muslims and Hindus to Christianity. "I disbelieve in the conversion of one person by another. My effort should never to be to undermine another's faith. This implies belief in the truth of all religions and, therefore, respect for them. It implies true humility." (Gandhiji, Young India: Apr. 23, 1931) "It is impossible for me to reconcile myself to the idea of conversion after the style that goes on in India and elsewhere today. It is an error which is perhaps the greatest impediment to the world's progress toward peace. Why should a Christian want to convert a Hindu to Christianity? Why should he not be satisfied if the Hindu is a good or godly man?" (Gandhiji, Harijan: January 30, 1937)
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