Religious leaders push for kidnapped bishops’ release

JERUSALEM — Religious leaders from around the world have stepped up their pleas for the safe return of two Syrian … Continued

JERUSALEM — Religious leaders from around the world have stepped up their pleas for the safe return of two Syrian bishops who were kidnapped April 22 by armed men as they were driving near the war-torn city of Aleppo.

The kidnappers, who have not been identified, abducted Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Youhanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo, while they were undertaking a “humanitarian mission” to help Syria’s Christian minority, according to Syrian Christian expatriates in the U.S.

The bishops’ Syrian Orthodox driver was killed in the attack.

Since 2011, more than 70,000 Syrians have died in fighting in the bloody civil war between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels seeking to oust Assad’s strong-arm regime.

In a statement over the weekend, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation called for the bishops’ ”immediate and unconditional” release.

Such acts, it said, “contradict the principles of true Islam and the (high) status held for Christian clergymen in Islam.”

The OIC’s statement followed earlier pleas by the Greek, Syrian and Melkite churches, as well as Pope Francis, who asked that the bishops “be returned quickly to their communities.”

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the abductions and murder of the driver “weigh heavily on the hearts of people of good will.”

Dolan said the kidnapping of “two men of peace is a sign of the terrible violence that is destroying the fabric of Syrian society,” and added that U.S. bishops “will continue to work through all channels” — the Holy See, the diplomatic and international community — to help secure the bishops’ release and an end to the hostilities in Syria.

Monsignor Jean-Clement Jeanbart, the Greek Melkite bishop of Aleppo, told AsiaNews that the Catholic and Orthodox churches “are doing their best” to bring the bishops home, but did not elaborate. “At present, no one understands the reasons for this act and who is behind these criminals,” he said.

Jeanbart said that fighting in Aleppo had intensified this week, and that one of the city’s Christian neighborhoods was shelled by mortars that killed four people and destroyed several homes.

“The situation in the city is terrible; no one is safe, not even the Christians,” who have remained outwardly neutral during the war, Jeanbart said.

Ibrahim’s nephew, Jamil Diarbakerli, who represents the Assyrian Democratic Organization, told the World Watch Monitor watchdog group that the two bishops had chosen to remain in Syria, despite the dangers.

“The two bishops stayed and want their people to do the same — not to leave the country, not to empty Syria of Christians,” he said.

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

  • Jane990

    Our Faith is in the Almighty God. We will continue to Pray for the safe release of these Blessed Religious Leaders, whose lives are dedicated in worship, serving the community, prayer, fasting and chastity. May the Almighty God protect, bless & support them in these difficult times of tribulation. God taught us Peace, Forgiveness and love. Lord Have Mercy. Please Lord, deliver us from evil, We cry onto you, for you are Lord & Saviour. Christians are suffering enormously in the Middle East. Religious Extremists continually preach hate and murder of innocent christian civilians.Daily, we are witnessing; discrimination, constant attacks on christian churches & properties, abductions & sexual assults of christian girls / women and senseless murder. How can one terrorise the other and believe that they are doing a good service for God. Why, I ask??? Whether, we are ‘infidels’ or not, let God judge us. Have Mercy on others, so God will have Mercy on You. We are all hurting in pain from the instability and insecurity all over the middle east. We Pray for Peace.

Read More Articles

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

987_00
An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

shutterstock_134310734
Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.