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Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Aleppo, Mor Gregorious Yohanna Ibrahim, and Bishop Paul Yazigi from the Greek Orthodox Church in Aleppo and Iskanderun were kidnapped on 22 April in the outskirts of Aleppo. Their release is uncertain.

They were in the same car that had come from the Turkish border. When they reached the outskirts of Aleppo a group of armed men stopped them. The men made everyone get out. They killed the deacon who was the driver. Since then the two metropolitan bishops have not been seen.

Mor Gregorious Yohanna Ibrahim, Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Aleppo is well-known. He is a bishop friend of the Focolare Movement and works with the Community of Sant’Egidio, as does Bishop Paul Yazigi.

The director of the Vatican Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi, said that it is ‘a dramatic confirmation of the tragic situation faced by the people of Syria and its Christian communities.’ Speaking on behalf of the Vatican, he went on to say, ‘The Holy Father Francis is following events with great concern and intense prayer for the health and release of the two kidnapped bishops, so that, with the commitment of all, the people of Syria may finally see effective answers to their humanitarian drama and the prospect of real hope for peace and reconciliation.’

At the moment the condition of the bishops is unclear. On 23 April the news of their release was announced in the media, but this is still being verified locally. In the evening a small crowd gathered in front of the residences of the bishops in Aleppo, but eventually they returned home. In the next few hours new developments are expected. The whole world is praying for their release.

Source: Città Nuova online