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11/3/2016 - RMG - Close to Fr Uzhunnalil, the words of Fr Cereda

(ANS - Rome) - One week after the attack on the house of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, in Yemen, there is still no news of the Indian Salesian missionary Fr Tom Uzhunnalil. Fr Francesco Cereda, Vicar of the Rector Major, gave several interviews in recent days to maintain media attention on the death of the Sisters and the situation of the missing Salesian.

"So far we have no hypothesis regarding the reasons for his disappearance.  It seems that it is a case of kidnapping” he told the Italian newspaper Avvenire. "The Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Sushma Swaraj, has given an assurance that the government will do everything in its power to locate Fr Tom, to have him released and to bring him back safe and sound. The Indian Bishops' Conference, and in particular the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, Bishop Paul Hinder OFM Cap, are taking every possible initiative."

Fr Cereda also confirmed that "the other Salesian priest in Yemen is in a safe place and keeping in constant contact with his superiors in India, almost every day. Apart from an understandable state of concern over the present situation, it seems that he is well."

The Vicar of the Rector Major is amazed at the "deafening silence of the media". "I cannot explain this indifference to which Pope Francis referred at the Sunday Angelus. This seems to be a sign of the change of values ​​in traditionally Christian countries ... On the contrary, in India, a country with a Hindu majority, there was sufficient coverage of the event."

On the Salesian presence in Yemen, Fr Cereda told the Catholic News Agency: "We were aware that the situation was getting worse by the day ... we realized that if all went away it would mean being deprived of the only organized Catholic presence in Yemen ... so the decision was left to each individual."

Regarding the future of Fr Uzhunnalil - and another Sister of the Missionaries of Charity who is also missing - Fr Cereda said: "prayers are being said around the Salesian world for his early release. We believe that these efforts are not in vain."

Published 11/03/2016

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