Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – At the end of his catechesis, Pope Francis spoke of the two Metropolitan bishops of Aleppo, Syria—Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch—who were kidnapped by a group of armed men who killed their driver, a deacon, while they were on a humanitarian mission.
“The kidnapping of the Greek Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan bishops, regarding whose liberation there has been conflicting news, is a further sign of the tragic situation that the beloved Syrian nation has been undergoing, where violence and weapons continue to sow death and suffering. While I recall in my prayers both bishops, that they might return soon to their communities, I ask God to enlighten hearts and I renew the urgent appeal that I made on Easter, that the bloodshed cease. May the necessary humanitarian assistance be given to the people and may a political solution to the crisis be found as soon as possible.”
Yesterday, 23 April, as well, the Press Office of the Holy See issued a communique saying that the Pope, informed of the kidnapping, “is following the events with deep participation and is ... praying that, with the commitment of all, the Syrian people may finally see tangible responses to the humanitarian drama and that real hopes of peace and reconciliation may rise on the horizon.”