Over the the weekend, a church in Syria was badly damaged by a car bomb, and a second Orthodox priest from a town near Damascus, who had been abducted about eight days earlier, was found murdered.
The car bomb exploded on Saturday in front of the only Syrian Orthodox Church in the town of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria, damaging it severely. According to local sources, the victims of the attack are five people who were in a restaurant near the church.
The Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus, led by His Beatitude Ignatius Zakka I was, confirmed the attack but was not able to provide further details because "it was not possible to establish a telephone link between Damascus and Deir Ezzor."
In September the same church dedicated to the Virgin Mary had been desecrated and vandalized by armed gangs. In the region of Deir Ezzor, currently under the control of the Free Syrian Army, Salafi groups have been reported. A month ago, some young Christians in the same region, in the ranks of the opposition wrote an open letter, also reported by the independent website "Now Lebanon", asking the military leaders of the Revolutionary Council respect for Christian and Muslim places of worship, a symbol of Syrian civilization and asserting that desecrating acts are "against the values of the revolution." The military replied it would have guaranteed the protection of sacred places.
Over the weekend also, the Catholic bishops of Damascus have express condolences for the brutal murder of a Greek-Orthodox priest, Fr Fady Haddad.
F Fady, parish priest at the church of St Elias in Qatana, a small town on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, was kidnapped on 18 October while negotiating the release of one of his parishioners, who had fallen into the hands of a group of unidentified armed men.
The priest was found dead six days later. The Council of Damascene Catholic Bishops expresses condolences to Patriarch Ignatius IV and all the brothers of the Greek Orthodox Church, praying to the Lord "to welcome into His kingdom the priest-martyr together with all the martyrs of Syria".
Before the murder of the priest, the Catholic Bishops express sorrow for all the "attacks against innocent citizens, places of worship, Muslims and Christians and men of religion committed to their humanitarian and spiritual ministry" that are multiplying in these days of suffering in Syria. Repeating that violence and division "do not belong to the nature of the Syrian people and its peaceful traditions ", the Catholic leaders of Damascus renew their "appeal for reconciliation" and to "stop violence, the proliferation of weapons and outpouring of blood." We call on all the warring parties to the necessity of dialogue" to find a solution that guarantees peace, freedom, justice and equality of all the citizens.
The last part of the appeal is addressed to the "Muslim brothers", who in these days celebrate the Feast of Aladha: "Your feast," write the Catholic bishops "is our feast, your joys are our joys, as well as your sorrows are ours. We have lived as brothers, and we will continue to live as brothers."
Padre Fady Haddad is the second priest killed in Syria since the conflict began. In January, Fr Bassilios Nassar was killed in Hama while he was trying to rescue a wounded man. As in the case of Fr Haddad, the coordination committees of the Syrian uprising questioned the official version of the proposal to the government, who had put the blame of the murder on a group of "armed terrorists."