Monday, March 28, 2016

There is NO Evidence that Fr. Thomas Uzhunnalil was Murdered on Good Friday

Fr. Tom

As most readers know, Fr. Thomas Uzhunnalil (Fr. Tom) was captured by ISIS during the deadly March 4 raid on the Catholic nursing home in Yemen. He is obviously in grave danger and may have been tortured. It's also possible that he is no longer alive.

However, reports over the last few hours that Uzhunnalil was crucified by ISIS on Good Friday (fulfilling an alleged earlier threat to do so) appear to have no basis in fact. They all stem from remarks supposedly made by Cardinal Schönborn at the Easter Vigil at Vienna's St. Stephen Cathedral.

What Cardinal Schönborn actually said is still unclear. But he has since stated that he does not know that the father was murdered and in fact is hopeful that he is still alive.

That the unconfirmed remarks of one source, made in an odd context--an Easter homily--could have been blown up by major publications into a supposedly true announcement about the death of a man, is unfortunate.

Major media sites such as The Drudge Report, The Daily Mail. The Washington Times and many others all had headlines basically reporting that the priest had been crucified. In each it was in fact stated in the text that the claim was merely taken from the remarks of Cardinal Schönborn. (Some referred to reports in Austrian and Polish media but those reports were themselves solely based on those remarks). Some of the articles even cited sources--such as the Archbishop of Bangalore--who disputed or cast doubt on the claim that Uzhunnalil had been killed. However, the headlines contained no such qualifications. And each additional headline seemed to embolden yet another site to run the story--again, almost always with the sensationalist headline. (I should note that in the last few minutes, many of them have added quotation marks to their headlines or added the phrase "says Cardinal Schönborn," etc.)

The above should not be construed as a criticism of any of the bloggers or Catholic sites that ran with or linked to the story. It is after all, part of their job to link to relevant news stories in a timely manner. And at the time it was not unreasonable to assume that there was more evidence for its truth, especially with so many major publications reporting it.

Fr. Tom was kidnapped by ISIS in a horrific attack that killed sixteen people including four Missionaries of Charity. It is very possible that the very worst might happen to the captured priest or even that the very worst already has happened. But there is no evidence yet that it has.


  1. Most likely not, because this message of his crucifixion was a HOAX spread by the Facebook. Look here:

    1. Yes. It sounds like it was a sort of hoax. The awful thing of course is that ISIS is capable of the most horrible tortures and murders imaginable. So even though these claims might be untrue or made up, Fr. Tom is of course still in great danger.