My family and I had a blessed Easter. We didn't turn on the television, the radio, or the internet the entire day and spent a wonderful day together. This morning I was so saddened to see the news from this weekend.
Everyone was aware last week that an ISIS related group had taken Fr. Tom as a hostage and was threatening to crucify him on Good Friday. We all prayed it wouldn't occur. But sadly, it seems it has. The Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, told a congregation gathered in St. Stephen's Cathedral that Fr. Tom had been crucified, according to the Daily Mail. Thus far there's been no video confirmation but this certainly seems like a terrible tragedy may very well have occurred.
[Editor's Note: Bishop Paul Hinder of Southern Arabia, the country just north of Yemen where Father Uzhunnalil was kidnapped, told CNA on Monday that he has “strong indications that Father Tom is still alive in the hands of the kidnappers,” but could not give further information in order to protect the life of the priest. Bishop Hinder added that Cardinal Schönborn has since corrected his alleged statement, which was made on the basis of an incorrect statement from Archbishop Bernard Moras in Bangalore. See this story for more details.]
In Pakistan, at least 72 Christians were killed in a massive suicide bombing in a park on Easter Sunday where hundreds of Christians were gathered. A faction of the Pakistani Taliban with ties to ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. “It was our people who attacked the Christians in Lahore, celebrating Easter,” a spokesperson for the terrorist group, said. “It’s our message to the government that we will carry out such attacks again until sharia [Islamic law] is imposed in the country.”
And during the noon mass in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, a half dozen animal rights protesters leapt up from the pews, one with a bullhorn, yelling that “Easter is a time for love! No more shedding animal blood!”
“I thought they were going to blow themselves up,” said one mass-goer. The group was eventually dragged away by police.
It appears that Jesus is as controversial now as He was two thousand years ago. In fact, last year was the most violent for Christians in modern history, according to a new report by Open Doors USA, a watchdog group. The survey found that more than 7,100 Christians were killed in 2015 for "faith-related reasons." And most recently, the Obama administration declared that anti-Christian violence by ISIS could be declared "genocide."
Please pray for persecuted Christians everywhere. Christ's message of love and salvation is exactly what the world needs but is most opposed to hearing.