Kidnapped Aleppo Bishops – update

aleppo_bishopsAl-Bawaba: Acting President of the Syrian National Coalition George Sabra said Wednesday that the two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria were being held in a small village northwest of Aleppo by a rebel group.

In a telephone conversation with Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel, Sabra said that Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim were both in good health and still in the custody of a small group of rebels in the Syrian town of Bshaqtin.

“The bishops are in good health and are being held by a small group in a town called Bshaqtin, 20 kilometers northwest of Aleppo,” Sabra told Gemayel, who was in a meeting with Syriac Orthodox bishops at the Kataeb Party’s headquarters in Saifi, according to Gemayel’s office.

Yazigi and Ibrahim were kidnapped last month by armed men while they were on their way to Aleppo from the Turkish border.

The meeting in Saifi was attended by Mount Lebanon’s Syriac Orthodox Bishop George Saliba, Beirut Bishop Daniel Koriyeh, Syriac League President Habib Efram and Deputy Bishop of Aleppo Joseph Shabo. Bishop Saliba also spoke to the Syrian opposition leader over the phone and urged him to secure the release of the kidnapped bishops.

When contacted by The Daily Star, Sabra declined to comment.

Speaking during the meeting in Saifi, Gemayel said the abduction of the two bishops constituted a bad message to the Christian communities in Syria and the region.

Saliba said that fear might overwhelm Christians in the region if the bishops were not released: “I don’t know whether the Christians would leave the region because of this or stay and react to this kidnapping in a way that we do not want.”

ORC News Portal: The plight of the two archbishops is of particular interest to Old Roman Catholics because since 1911 the Old Roman Catholic Church has had a special relationship with the Patriarchate of Antioch. ORC Churches and faithful have been praying for the release of the two archbishops, offering Masses and devotions for their safe relief. This latest news is a positive sign of that “faith, hope and charity” that has been expressed by Christians all over the world for these two men and their well-being. Please join us all in prayer for a speedy return of these two men of God to their faithful and to the Church as a whole.

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