Pope Francis has called for the release of two Orthodox bishops who were kidnapped in the north of Syria on April 22. Reports of their release surfaced on Wednesday but were later denied.
Pope Francis called yesterday for the release of two Syrian bishops kidnapped by gunmen near Aleppo after a Christian group appeared to retract its claim that the clerics had been freed.
Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yaziji and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim were kidnapped on April 22 by armed men en route from the Turkish border. Speaking to an audience of around 100,000 at the Vatican, Francis said there were “contradictory reports” about the fate of the bishops and asked that “they be returned quickly to their communities.”
On April 23, the “Oeuvre d’Orient” Christian association announced that the bishops had been released, but it backed away from the claim yesterday. “Yesterday evening we received information from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate questioning the release of the two bishops,” said Catherine Baumont, a spokeswoman for the group, which works to help Middle Eastern Christians.
“Unfortunately no tangible proof of the release has been obtained. The situation remains unclear, and we still don’t know who took them,” Baumont told Agence France-Presse. A source in Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox archdiocese also said it had no news on the fate of the bishops. “We have no new information,” said Ghassan Ward, a priest at the archdiocese.
Date created : 2013-04-25