Members of the clergy hold candles during a vigil at the Balamand Monastery in Koura, Lebanon, June 22, to pray for the release of bishops kidnapped in northern Syria. Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna of Aleppo were kidnapped April 22, 2013 in northern Syria while on a humanitarian mission. CNS photo/Omar Ibrahim, Reuters

Greek Orthodox patriarch: World remains silent about missing bishops

By  Doreen Abi Raad, Catholic News Service
  • April 20, 2015

BEIRUT - Commemorating the second anniversary of the kidnapping of two Syrian bishops, the Greek Orthodox patriarch lamented the indifference of the international community about their fate.

"We hope that the bishops are alive, but unfortunately the world is silent and nobody has provided physical evidence," Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X of Antioch said in a statement he read at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy April 19 at Our Lady of Balamand Monastery in northern Lebanon, near Tripoli.

The bishops -- Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul, both of Aleppo, Syria -- were kidnapped April 22, 2013, in the province of Aleppo. Metropolitan Paul is the brother of the patriarch.

Patriarch John called for "the whole community and international organizations to mobilize" to inquire about the fate of the missing bishops.

"We tried to negotiate with those who can help in this matter, but unfortunately there was total silence," he said.

In a joint statement recognizing the second anniversary of the bishops' kidnappings, Patriarch John and Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II of Antioch said, "Your wound is our wound, and your pain is our pain, and your tears are our tears and your life is our life."

"Our (Middle) East," the patriarchs said, "has become an open arena for all evils." The aim of the atrocities in the region "is to demolish life in its cradle, shatter civilizations, remove the rudiments of its landmarks, conceal its characteristics, displace man, destroy history and disfigure the identity of God," they stated.

The two Syrian-born patriarchs called for dialogue.

"Let us shake hands, talk to each other, have peace, reconciliation, mutual understanding, cooperation, and integration. The solution is not achieved by violence, but by multiple forms of dialogue," they said.

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