Aleppo (AsiaNews) - "Pray for the release of Msgr. Youhanna Ibrahim and Msgr. Boulos Yaziji and for all the people of Syria." This is the appeal of Msgr. Antoine Audo, Chaldean Archbishop of Aleppo one month after the kidnapping of the two Orthodox prelates, which took place on April 22 at the border with Turkey.
saddens us - says the prelate to AsiaNews - and what saddens the
population is the total absence of news about the conditions of the two bishops
and where they are prisoners." On 18 May, all the Christian churches of
Aleppo, Catholic and Orthodox, organized a day of prayer for Syria. Thousands
of people attended, braving the bombs, the risk of robberies and kidnappings. The
bishop says priests and religious leaders are an easy target for criminals and
extremists, "I myself cannot move freely for fear of being kidnapped. We
have to plan all our trips."
On May 24, the Catholic Church of Aleppo held a retreat of prayer and reflection in the Melkite Cathedral. It will bring together the priests and bishops of the diocese. "The spiritual exercises this year - says the prelate - are focused on what happened to Msgr. Youhanna and Msgr. Yaziji. All our prayers and celebrations will be offered for them."
The climate of a city under siege, does not limit the life of the Church, which has become the only sign of hope in a devastated country. "We are in Eastertime - Msgr. Audo - and in all the churches we hear the song 'Christ is risen Alleluia.' Listening to this music in a climate of sorrow and war, moves us."
In recent days, Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, launched an appeal for the release of the two prelates in the patriarchal and synodal encyclical published in all the Orthodox communities on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of the promulgation of the Edict of Milan. In the text, Bartholomew expresses his deep concern and anguish for "the persecution still rampant in the land, and in particular recently against the Christian populations of the Middle East." "Murders, kidnappings, threats and lawsuits" against Christians: "We share - we read in Patriarch Bartholomew's encyclical - the pain, grief and the difficulties facing Christians in the Middle East and Egypt, and in particular, in the ancient and venerable Patriarchate of Antioch. Without taking any political position, we condemn without hesitation and once again all forms of violence against Christians, appealing to the powerful of the earth so that they respect fundamental human rights, the right to life, to dignity and the right to have a future, knowing and praising their behavior peaceful and quiet, and their constant effort to stay away from all violence and conflict. " For his part, "the Ecumenical Patriarchate will never cease to support with all the forces at his disposal, the efforts of peaceful dialogue between the different religions for a peaceful solution of conflicts and the creation of a climate of tolerance, reconciliation and cooperation between people of every religion and every ethnic origin. " (S.C.)