2013-10-09 16:48:00

Patriarch Kirill believes Syrian Christian metropolitans kidnapped in spring are alive

Sergiyev Posad, October 9, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes the Christian leaders from the Syrian city of Aleppo, who were abducted in spring 2013, could still be alive.

"There are indirect indications that they are alive, and we hope this is so. And until we get them back, all together, we won't give up and will be working," the patriarch said at a meeting with a number of Syrian Christian hierarchs at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius.

Patriarch Kirill recalled that he had earlier appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan to provide assistance in freeing the abducted metropolitans.

The media reported earlier that Syrian opposition fighters kidnapped Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Youhanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul (Yazigi) of Aleppo and Iskanderun, Patriarch John X's brother, on April. Their driver, also a priest, was killed. The archbishops were dealing with humanitarian problems of the local population in the village of Kfour Dael near the Syrian border with Turkey.

Patriarch Kirill said it was hard to imagine only recently that Syria, a peaceful and prospering country where people of various denominations were living in peace and where the economy was developing successfully, would be destroyed "before the entire world's eyes." "A disaster is happening momentarily at someone's ill will. On the pretext of promoting democracy, the people are being killed, peaceful homes blown up, and, what counts most, Christians exterminated. We know that those committing these heinous villainies receive weapons and money from abroad - perhaps from the people who are seeking to destroy Syria," he said.

The Russian Orthodox Church is doing what it can to stop the bloodshed, is working closely together with the Russian president and government, and providing humanitarian aid, including by mobilizing non-governmental organizations, he said.

"We are very glad that it is precisely Russia that is making proposals capable of stopping the bloodshed today," he said.

It is important to prevent the Syrian conflict from spreading to Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine, "because, if this happens, the most horrible result of this will be the elimination of Christians from the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity," he said.