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Orthodox leader asks Pope to help find kidnapped bishops in Syria

2014-11-14

With this greeting, Pope Francis embraced all persecuted Christians in the Middle East. During the meeting with Christian bishops organized by the Focolare movements, the metropolitan of the Syriac-Orthodox Church of Antioch made a special request to the Pope. 

"For the release of our kidnapped brother bishops.”

THEOPHILOS KURIAKOSE
Metropolitan, Syriac-Orthodox Church of Antioch
"I appealed him to intervene and then His Holiness came to me and held my hand and told me that "I am deeply united with you and I pray for these two bishops and I will do my best for their release and for the suffering people in the Middle East”. So that was something very profound and this came out of his heart.”

He asked that the Pope could intercede during his visit to Turkey for the two Orthodox bishops kidnapped in Syria 18 months ago:  Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, a Syrian Orthodox, and Boulos al-Yazigi, who is Greek Orthodox. 

THEOPHILOS KURIAKOSE
Metropolitan, Syriac-Orthodox Church of Antioch
"Unfortunately, we don't know anything about where they are. They were kidnapped from the Turkish border in Syria. But unfortunately... One of these bishops, especially Bishop Gregorios was very much active in the ecumenical movement and the social activities.”

The Syriac-Orthodox Church is a first-hand witness to the suffering of Christians in the Middle East. Metropolitan Theophilos asked that Western countries mobilize to help refugees. He also strongly denounced those who assist the Islamic State. 

THEOPHILOS KURIAKOSE
Metropolitan, Syriac-Orthodox Church of Antioch
"ISIS is not a sudden event. Its preparation has been done a long time. I don't want to name the people who are engaged in that but they are backed by many people around there. So it is our task. All kind of fundamentalism and this kind of extremism, that should be abhorred and even not only for the Christians, even for the Muslims is a threat.”

The solution, he said, while not violent, should allow for Christians and Muslims to live together in peace in the Middle East, as they have done for centuries. 


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