SYRIA: No trace of abducted Syrian Bishops
By Oliver Maksan
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, the Ecumenical Relations & Relief Officer of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, gave last week to a question from the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). "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 Mor 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.
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 severe adverse effects on the humanitarian situation in Aleppo. "There's a lack of everything, of food and medicines, " according to Siriani.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria ACN has helped the Syrian refugee crisis with a total of $1.5 million.
Of the approximately 20 million inhabitants of Syria, some 1.5 million have fled abroad, while 4 million have been displaced within the country. Unemployment, lack of medical provision, increasing crime (for example in the form of kidnappings) and the lack of normal schooling for the children are major problems. ACN is helping to provide medical care for families in Aleppo and supporting Christian schools. The charity is also helping handicapped people in Homs and providing food parcels for those in need (via Caritas Lebanon).
Please click HERE to view the short film titled Syria: The Civil War and the Christian Minority.
The promising future that the so-called Arab Spring foretold has become rather a nightmare in Syria: an escalating conflict that has forced thousands of Syrians to leave their country. Christian families in particular face particular hardship in the refugees camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Aid to the Church in Need presents in this short film the testimony of men and women longing to go back to their homeland in peace and harmony.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 172 languages and 50 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.
For more information or to make a donation to help the work of Aid to the Church in Need, please contact the Australian office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153.
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