Oliver Maksan, ACN International
Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada
Even six weeks after they were taken there is still no trace of the two Syrian Bishops abducted at the end of April. This was the answer Razek Siriani, a representative of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, gave on last Thursday – june 6th -, to a question from the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need”.
“Since their abduction we have received no information of where they are being held or how they are,” Siriani said. The two Aleppine prelates, Archbishop Mgr Gregorius Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Bishop Boulos Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church, were abducted by armed men on 22 April in Aleppo.
A lot of solidarity
Siriani stressed that the dioceses concerned had shown a lot of solidarity since the abduction. “Many Muslim and other organisations from Syria and the whole world have assured us of their sympathy.” Foreign states had expressed support for the cause of the two Bishops. “To date the diplomatic interventions by many foreign affairs ministers has also failed to help bring about the release of our Bishops.”
Siriani expressed his concern about the effects of the abduction on the Christian community in Syria. “This was of course no ordinary abduction, but a symbolic one. Whenever church leaders are seized this naturally has adverse psychological consequences for the Christians in Syria as a whole.”
Siriani mentioned as a positive aspect, however, that in view of the threat the country’s churches had come closer together in ecumenical terms. “The churches concerned meet every day to deliberate. But we also receive a lot of sympathy from other Christians in Syria.” He expressly called for prayers to be said for the abducted Bishops.
Siriani went on to say that the security situation in Aleppo itself was quiet at present. Because of the situation around the city, it was only possible to a limited extent to provide this millions-strong metropolis with provisions. This was having severely adverse effects on the humanitarian situation in Aleppo. “There’s a lack of everything, of food and medicines, ” according to Siriani.