A spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo said that there’s still no news about the two Syrian Orthodox archbishops kidnapped a week ago, on 22 April. The spokesman, who preferred to be anonymous for security reasons, spoke today with the Catholic NGO Aid to the Church in Need, saying, “We still don’t know where the two archbishops are or who has taken them. There are many Christians being kidnapped now, and this is the first time where we have absolutely no clue about what has happened, where nobody has taken responsibility for the abduction. Of course, this is very worrying… especially, as we’re now on Day Eight since [the kidnapping] happened”.
Gunmen abducted Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yagizi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim some five miles west of Aleppo, the city to which they were returning after travelling to the Turkish border to negotiate the release of two priests… Frs Michael Kayyal and Maher Mahfouz… kidnapped on 9 February. The kidnapped killed the archbishops’ driver, Deacon Fatha’ Allah Kabboud. Even if the archbishops are being held in a safe location, there’s concern for the health of Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Ibrahim, who takes medication for high blood pressure and diabetes, and isn’t thought to have had the medication with him when he was taken.
The diocesan spokesman said that Church leaders were combating pressure from the Christian community. He said that Christians were calling for demonstrations to appeal for the archbishops’ release, a move which that he said could antagonise the kidnappers. Saying that services and prayer vigils were taking place including one broadcast on Syrian TV, he added, “Christians are worried and want to express their anger about what’s happened, but we should carefully study every step… we have to think about what the response would be from the kidnappers”.
He went on to appeal for continuing international pressure for the archbishops’ release. Emphasising the bishops’ high status, he said that he was hopeful that diplomatic intervention would prove effective, noting, “So far, the international community has done very well in putting pressure. We don’t want that pressure to subside… government, civil society, churches, and NGOs… different levels of help might help”. He called on Christians “and all people of good will” to pray for the archbishops’ release, observing, “What’s so sad about this is that both men were among those working hardest for peace, yet, in this time of conflict, they’re amongst those paying the highest price”.
29 April 2013
Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim of Aleppo
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi appealed for the release of two Orthodox bishops kidnapped and held in Syria, saying that they should be set free in the name of humanity. Rai made his appeal whilst he served liturgy at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Brazil, where he’s on an official visit. On 22 April, armed men kidnapped Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo, as they were enroute to the northern city from the Turkish border. Rai said that all parties involved in the kidnappings should “play a part in their release”, and emphasised, “The kidnapping of the two bishops has nothing to do with current political disputes”.
29 April 2013
The Daily Star
On Friday, in a strong message of solidarity, Muslim clerics in Damascus denounced the kidnapping of Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yazigi, and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Youhanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo. Last Monday, armed men abducted the two whilst they were travelling to Aleppo from a town on the Turkish border where they were carrying out “humanitarian work”. The official SANA news agency reported that imams and preachers at mosques throughout the Syrian capital said in Friday sermons that the kidnappers “ dishonoured the inviolability of Christian and Islamic clergymen”. On Saturday, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation joined in, calling for the “unconditional” release of the two bishops. Ekmeledin Ihsanoglu, the OIC secretary general, condemned the kidnapping. The OIC statement urged their “immediate and unconditional release because such acts contradict the principles of true Islam and the [high] status held by Christian clergymen in Islam”. It added that Christian clergy always “had dignity and honour in Islamic countries”.
28 April 2013
ICN: Independent Catholic News