Pope Francis was among those who advocated on behalf of Fr. Tom, calling for the priest's release April 10, 2016, after his Sunday Regina Coeli address in St. Peter's Square.
"I renew my appeal for the freeing of all kidnapped persons in armed conflict zones," the Pope said. "In particular, I wish to remember Salesian priest Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted in Aden, Yemen last March 4."
Since his kidnapping, tireless efforts had been made on the part of the government and the Indian bishops to secure his release, and numerous prayer vigils and novenas were organized by the Salesians in Bangalore praying for his safety.
It is still unclear exactly which group is responsible for Fr. Tom's abduction. Many reports claim that ISIS was responsible, however, the rumors remain unconfirmed.
Yemen has been embroiled in civil war since March 2015, when Shia rebels attempted to oust Yemen's Sunni-led government. Saudi Arabia has led a pro-government coalition. Both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have set up strongholds in the country amid the power vacuum. More than 6,000 people have been killed in the conflict, according to the United Nations.
The Catholic bishops of India voiced their "immense joy on getting the news of the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil."
"As we thank God for this unique grace bestowed on Fr. Tom and his family and the Salesian Congregation (The Society of Don Bosco) and the Catholic Church in India, we pray for his continued good health and complete recovery to resume active Salesian ministry for God and His people in his Congregation and the Church."
In a statement, the Indian Bishops' Conference thanked everyone who had prayed for Fr. Tom's release.
The statement was signed by Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the conference.
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Offering "profound gratitude to God," the bishops also thanked Indian government officials – especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of External Affairs Srimati Sushma Swaraj – for working to obtain Fr. Tom's safety.
They further thanked Pope Francis, who "took personal interest in Fr. Tom's release efforts," as well as Bishop Paul Hinder of Southern Arabia (whose apostolic vicariate serves Catholics in Yemen) and the Sultan of Oman for their efforts, and the leaders of the priest's community for their perseverance.
"Fr. Tom's release gives immense joy to the Catholic Church in India and the Salesian Family and all the people of India and we place on record our gratitude to all for their immense faith in God and persevering prayers that God in his goodness and mercy has heard and answered," the bishops' conference said.