By John Martin

An abducted Indian priest at the center of a viral social media storm claiming his crucifixion on Good Friday is reported alive and likely to be released soon.

The Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil was captured in Aden, capital of Yemen, in March. At least 15 people, including nuns from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, died in an attack on an old people’s home.

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Pope Francis condemned the attack and urged use of Twitter and other social media to garner support and prayers for Uzhunnalil. In the lead-up to Easter, there were unsubstantiated reports concerning his crucifixion by Islamic State militants.

Now reports from Reuters say the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) sent a delegate to meet Sushma Swaraj, India’s minister of external affairs. The delegate obtained assurances that the government is working to arrange the priest’s safe return.

“She has assured us Father Tom is safe and negotiations are on for his release, which could happen very soon,” said the Rev. Joseph Chinnaiyan, deputy secretary of the bishops’ conference.

While media reports said Uzhunnalil was killed by Islamic State militants on Good Friday, the Catholic Archbishop of Bangalore told London-based Premier that he could not confirm reports of the death.

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