Voices from Russia

Monday, 21 October 2013

Hopes Rise for Abducted Bishops after Pilgrims Freed by Syrian Oppos

00 Patriarch Kirill with Syrian bishops. 09.10.13

Syrian bishops with HH… one of the topics under discussion was a confab to figure out what to do for the two abducted bishops.


On Sunday, two caretaker ministers said that the release of nine Lebanese pilgrims held hostage in Syria raised hopes for the freedom of two Orthodox bishops kidnapped by Syrian rebels in April. Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel denied earlier reports that the bishops were dead, telling the Daily Star, “The two bishops are alive and are held in an area around Aleppo”. Asked which group in the Syrian opposition was holding them, he said, “We don’t know yet who’s holding the two bishops. We’re trying to determine the group that kidnapped them before launching moves to secure their release”.

On 22 April, armed men kidnapped Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos al-Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim whilst they were enroute to the northern city from the Turkish border. Reportedly, a small group of rebels holds them in the town of Bshaqtin, 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) northwest of Aleppo. However, Charbel struck an upbeat note about freedom for the two bishops following the release of nine Lebanese pilgrims on Saturday, who returned home from Turkey after spending 17 months captive at the hands of Syrian rebels in the Aleppo region town of Azaz near the Turkish border, saying, “The release of the kidnapped Lebanese in Azaz gives hope for the release of the two bishops”.

Similarly, Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour was optimistic about the release of the two bishops following the three-way swap deal that also involved the release of two Turkish Airlines pilots kidnapped in Beirut in August and dozens of Syrian women detained by President Bashar al-Assad’s régime. Mansour told the Daily Star, “There’s hope for the release of all detainees and kidnapped people in Syria. The release of the Lebanese hostages in Azaz could be a prelude toward releasing all the kidnap victims in Syria, including the two bishops”. Noting that Lebanon plays “a humanitarian role” to help secure the freedom of the two bishops, Mansour said, “We should combine local and international efforts, especially with the Syrian authorities and countries that wield influence on the kidnappers, to secure the release of the two bishops”. He added that, so far, the kidnappers hadn’t announced their motive for holding the two bishops or issued any demands for their release. Mansour said, “Lebanon had nothing to do with the kidnapping of the two bishops because the abduction took place on Syrian territory and the two bishops are Syrian citizens. Lebanon only plays a humanitarian role in helping to secure the release of the two bishops”.

Caretaker Defence Minister Fayez Ghosn said that serious efforts were underway to secure the two bishops’ freedom, saying, “Serious efforts are continuing towards eliminating all obstacles in the way to secure their release”. He expressed hope that these efforts would succeed, so that “we could see the two bishops safe, amongst us”. Major General Abbas Ibrahim, head of General Security, who shuttled to and from regional capitals to facilitate negotiations on the release of the Lebanese, promised to continue efforts to secure the two bishops’ freedom. He told reporters after arriving with the nine freed Lebanese at Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport Saturday night, “We have a lot of work to do because the two bishops and others are still [held captive]. The case isn’t finished. Only part of the work is done”.

Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi voiced hope that the two bishops would gain their freedom following the release of the pilgrims. Mar Bechara said during Sunday Mass in Metn, “We thank God for the release of the nine Lebanese kidnapped in Syria. We celebrate with their families over the joy of their safe return. We particularly pray for the release of Bishops Boulos al-Yazigi and Youhanna Ibrahim … We pray that this human tragedy comes to an end”.

21 October 2013

Hussein Dakroub

The Daily Star (Lebanon)



Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Maronite Patriarch Rejects Military Action in Syria

01 Private Mercenary Armies cartoon


Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi rejected any military action against Syria in remarks Sunday following his meeting with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna al-Yazigi of Antioch and all the East. At Balamand Monastery near Tripoli, Rahi said, “We’re against any foreign military intervention in Syria or other [means] that could include weapons and strikes. The crisis in Syria should be resolved with diplomacy and the tragedies we’re seeing are unacceptable”. He said that the sides in the Syrian conflict should look to resolve their disputes through peaceful means, saying, “Not everything can be resolved using iron and fire. We don’t want war to erase what we’ve built in this region, and we don’t want this region to be a means to war”. Rahi also demanded the release of two Syrian bishops kidnapped near a rebel area. Armed men kidnapped Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos al-Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim in April as they were on their way to Aleppo from the Turkish border.

Meanwhile, Rahi also said that rival Lebanese leaders failed to launch reconciliation or speed up the formation of a new government after recent car bombings in the past two months. He said in a Sunday sermon in Dimane, in northern Lebanon, “If [politicians] had taken courageous and responsible steps on the road to sectarian and political reconciliation, a new government, the restart of national dialogue, and security measures to limit the proliferation of arms, at least, it would’ve consoled the relatives of the martyrs of Beirut and Tripoli”.

1 September 2013

The Daily Star (Lebanon)


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Statement by President Obama on the Occasion of Orthodox Easter

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo. Easter 2012 01


This weekend, Michelle and I extend our best wishes to members of the Orthodox Christian community here in America and around the world as they observe Holy Friday and the Feast of the Resurrection. For millions of Orthodox Christians, this is a joyful time, but it’s also a reminder of the sacrifice Christ made so that we might have eternal life. His decision to choose love in the face of hate, to hope in the face of despair, is an example we should always strive to follow. However, it’s especially important to remember this year, as members of the Orthodox community have been confronted with persecution and violence, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. For centuries, the region and the world has been enriched by the contributions of Orthodox communities in countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. As a nation, we reaffirm our commitment to protecting universal human rights including the freedom of religion. Moreover, in this season of hope and restoration, we celebrate the transformational power of sacrificial love.

00 Barack Obama4 May 2013

Barack Obama

President of the USA



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