Salesian leaders deny claim kidnapped priest crucified

Catholic leaders in India have denied American press reports that a Salesian priest kidnapped by ISIS in Aden last month was crucified on Good Friday. On 27 March 2016 the Washington Times and other media outlets reported that Fr. Thomas Uzhunnalil, a Roman Catholic priest belonging to the Bangalore province of the Society of St Francis de Sales kidnapped by ISIS during their 4 March 2016 attack on the Mother Teresa Home in Aden run by the Missionary Sisters of Charity had been crucified. The newspaper reported Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna had made the claim during a homily given on Holy Saturday. On 28 March 2016 Fr. Joseph Chinnayan, the deputy secretary general of the Indian bishops’ conference told they had been in contact with church and government leaders round the world and “As of now, there is absolutely no basis for this talk of crucifixion.” A spokesman for the Salesian order told reporters the Indian government was actively engaged in securing the priest’s release. On 4 March 2016 members of the Islamic state attacked the Mother Teresa Home for the elderly, killing four nuns and 11 Ethiopian and Arab Christian members of the staff. One nun escaped death by hiding in the home’s refrigerator. Fr. Uzhunnalil was taken away by the raiding party. His whereabouts are unknown.The Anglican Bishop of Cyprus and Gulf, the Rt. Rev. Michael  Lewis told his diocese: “Doubtless the murderers are from the pernicious ultra-fundamentalist fanatical puritan strand of Islam that encompasses IS or Da’esh and takes inspiration from the Wahhabi sect.  Their actions will be met with revulsion by true Muslims, especially native Adenis, whose respect for the works of charity and service by Christians in their city is great.”


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