I wanted to share this letter that the priest at my parish here in Buenos Aires wrote to Clarín, which is a big newspaper in Argentina, about the kidnapping of two bishops in Syria two years ago. May all of us who have the great blessing of living in peaceful countries unite in prayer and support of Christians in the Middle East.
Here is my (rough – sorry!) translation into English:
I am a priest of the Orthodox Cathedral of St. George, located in the Palermo neighborhood of the city of Buenos Aires, belonging to the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Our Church arrived in Argentina alongside the Syrian and Lebanese Christians who were escaping various religious persecutions at the beginning of last century.
Monday, April 22, 2013, almost two years ago, we were surprised by the news of the kidnapping of two of our Archbishops in Aleppo, Syria, Paul Yazigi of the Antiochian Orthodox Church and Youhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church, while they were both returning to Aleppo on a humanitarian mission. Since that day we have been asking the world to accompany us in calling for information about what has happened to them.
We mourn these kidnappings and are saddened by them, as all similar actions toward any Syrian citizen without any distinction between religions. Before them, other priests had been kidnapped: Isaac Mahfud, of the Orthodox Church; Michael Kayyal, of the Armenian Catholic Church; and the Jesuit Paolo Dall'Oglio. All of them remain disappeared. The priests Basilios Nassar, Fadi Haddad, François Murad, and Frans Van der Lugt, as well as the deacon Fautuh who moved the kidnapped bishops, have already been killed.
Since April 22, 2013 we have asked the world to support the Christian presence in the Middle East, where we are an inseparable part of the fabric of the people.
Eastern Christians lament and suffer the violence that is being lived in our countries of origin because of international interests and that separates us more and more by the day. We ask all men of good will to join us in crying out for an ending to all actions that seek to sow sectarian and interreligious strife in that most special part of the world.
As we mark two years since these bishops’ kidnapping, we also ask that here in our country we lift up a prayer for them, and that your newspaper can join us in making readers aware that this Sunday, April 19, at 11am in our Cathedral we will lift a prayer to God for the life, peace, health, and salvation of the servants of God Paul and Youhanna, and all those kidnapped in our beloved Syria.
Thank you very much.
P. Gabriel Coronel