Two archbishops were kidnapped on the outskirts of Aleppo on Monday evening, Lebanon’s National News Agency has just reported. The Syriac Orthodox Mar Gregorious Johana Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi were driving back from a pastoral visit to the village of Kfar Dael near the Turkish border when they were met by an armed group that forced them out of their car. It is believed the priest who was driving them was killed.
The bishops are report to alive and efforts are ongoing to secure their release. The church authorities in Syria are not commenting until they have more information.
Several prominent Muslim clerics have been killed in Syria's two-year-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, but the two bishops are the most senior church leaders to be caught up in the conflict.
Mar Gregorious lectured at Heythrop College last year on the situation of Christians in Syria and the wider Middle East.
Fr Robin Gibbons, an Eastern-Rite Chaplain for Melkite Greek Catholics in Britain, who sent us this news, has asked readers to pray for the Orthodox and Catholic Christians in Syria who are facing desperate hardship and increasing persecution.
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