The two kidnapped Orthodox bishops are not free, as I reported quoting bishop Tony Yazigi in a statement to Reuters from Damascus. According to more recent news the two bishops never arrived to Aleppo and remain in the hands of their kidnappers. There are no news about who are behind the kidnapping. The abductors killed the driver of the bishops during the attack near the northern city of Aleppo. The “Authorities” blamed the rebels, but the “Syrian National Coalition” in the opposition, denied that their groups had kidnapped the two bishops and said they are working for their release.
The Orthodox Patriarchates of Antioch published an appeal in their behalf that explain the situation of the Christians in Syria and was published by Vatican Radio.
In that appeal the Patriarchates from Damascus say that
“the Christians living here are an essential part of the land. They suffer the pain every person suffers; they work as messengers of peace to stop the perpetration of injustice against the oppressed. They follow the teaching of the Gospel that says love is at the basis of human relations. The official positions expressed by the spiritual leaders of the various churches highlight these beliefs and the mission fulfilled by the two kidnapped bishops is further proof of this orientation.”
“The Christians in this part of the East – say the Patriarchs – are deeply saddened by what their country is going through, namely the violence that is dividing the sons of the same country and endangering civilians who conduct their lives in peace.”
After that they made an appeal to their people to remain in their country coexisting peacefully with people from other confessions:
“We understand the preoccupation of the Christians following this event. We call on them to be patient, to adhere to the teachings of their faith, and to rely on God whose strength lies also in our weakness. We believe that to remain in our land and to do all that is possible to make it a land of love and coexistence, is a powerful tool in its defense. We are also aware that all citizens from all confessions are suffering the same pain due to the violence, and we pray that the Lord may strengthen them and console in their difficulties. Together with them we raise our voices and reject all sorts of violence that tears our country and makes our hearts bleed”.
They hope this case can bring the attention of the world to the crisis in Syria:
“In this painful situation, we call on the world to work to end the Syrian crisis, so that it may go back to being a garden of love, security and peaceful coexistence. Political strife should not be resolved at the expense of the men and women of this region”.
Finally they ask for acts of peace instead of violence.
“We also call all the churches in the world to stand fast in the face of what is happening and provide a witness to the power of love in this world. It is necessary to take steps that attest to the fact that they reject the violence to which the populations of these lands are being subjected to today.”
“We take the opportunity to call on our brothers of all Islamic confessions to work together, the ones with the others, to demonstrate that we refuse to consider man as a product that can be bought or sold, a shield to be used in war, a political or financial good of exchange.”
For the complete text go to http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/04/24/the_orthodox_patriarchates_of_antioch_appeal_for_the_release_of_tw/en1-685937
of the Vatican Radio website