Voices from Russia

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Patriarch Youhanna of Antioch Held a Vigil in Lebanon for Kidnapped Orthodox Bishops

01 Arab Orthodox in Beit Jala


On Saturday, Christians in Lebanon held a candlelit vigil for two archbishops captured in Syria in April, appealing to their kidnappers to free them and urging Syrian security forces to do more to win their release. Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna al-Yazigi of Antioch and all the East led around 300 people in the vigil near the Lebanese city of Tripoli to call for the release of his brother, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos al-Yazigi, and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim. The archbishops, seized near Aleppo on 22 April, are the most senior church figures caught up in the battle between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s forces and the mainly-Sunni Muslim rebels trying to overthrow him. Patriarch Youhanna said, “It hurts our soul to see what is happening in our homeland”. The Syrian Civil War has killed 93,000 people, driven 1.6 million refugees abroad, and left many more homeless inside Syria. Many Christians feel vulnerable to the sectarian dynamic of the conflict, with hardline Islamist brigades becoming increasingly-powerful in the rebel ranks. Syrian authorities blamed the abduction on a “terrorist group”, the label they usually give to the rebels, but opposition fighters in Aleppo denied they’d kidnapped the archbishops. Patriarch Youhanna said that he appreciated the efforts of Syrian security services to free the clerics, saying, “However, we nevertheless wonder about their inability in this regard. Are they really incapable of doing anything?”

22 June 2013

Dominic Evans




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