Fr. Tom is Free!

I rejoice with the entire Catholic Church, and especially the Church in India, at the news of the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian priest and missionary who was kidnapped by Islamic extremists in September, 2016. The extremists used deceit to gain entry into a home for the elderly in the southern port city of Aden in Yemen. They murdered four nuns who were members of the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order founded by St. Teresa of Calcutta, eight elderly residents, three staff members, and a security guard. Fr. Tom was kidnapped and had been held for over a year until his release last week.

Details of the negotiations for his release are few, but reports do say that no ransom was paid.

Fr. Tom is in Rome recuperating. During his time in Rome, he met with Pope Francis, who had called for his release.

Today, the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, may be a good day to reflect on the fact, not often given much attention in the Western press, that Christians in many parts of the world remain at great risk for persecution, imprisonment, and death at the hands of Islamic extremists and governments, especially the few remaining Communist governments, that are hostile to religion in general and Christianity in particular.

The 20th century has been call the century of martyrs, with some claiming that more Christians died for the faith in those one hundred years than in any other century. True or not, the first few years of the 21st century have shown no let up in the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ in many countries. The Church remains a threat in the minds of Islamist extremists and ideologues who view the state at the primary institution in the life of a people. While most Christians in the West have little to fear for their lives, persecution is not unheard of even here, for the social and political movements toward secularism dominated by the culture of death and the culture of relativism are such that Christians are more often finding themselves ostracized by polite and acceptable society, even to the point of losing jobs or having their livelihoods threatened by those who will not tolerate deviance from the secular agenda.

Catholic agencies that work to assist persecuted Christians include:

Catholic Relief Services: http://www.crs.org

Aid to the Church in Need: http://www.churchinneed.org

Catholic Near East Welfare Association: http://www.cnewa.org

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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