A Joint Statement - the abduction of the two…



The Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate
of Antioch and all the East
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
of Antioch and all the East

A Joint Statement 

One year after the abduction of the two Metropolitans of Aleppo
John and Paul
Damascus, Holy Cross Church, April 22, 2014

One year ago, our brothers, Bishops John and Paul has been abducted, but they proved to the whole world that, in the likeness of their Lord, they are a messengers of peace. They have been abducted to prove for the whole world, not only by words but also by deeds, that they are always beside their parish. They have been abducted to show that the storm, even if it lasts, does not spare a bishop or a Sheik, a Church or a Mosque, a child or an old man, one country or another. Today, our believers’ hearts gather in the Church of Antioch, in Syria, Lebanon and the whole East, as they gathered previously praying in front of God and the pure Virgin for their safe return and the return of every abducted.

The two bishops, John and Paul, learned from the Lord that the power of His light is much stronger than the harshness of this world. Behold and listen what Bishop John’s protector says: “God is love”, while the protector of Bishop Paul, Saint Paul the Apostle, speaks about Jesus Christ’s Cross that He held out of His love to mankind. Their tribulation today makes a part of the Cross of love, this love which gathers us today, Christians and Muslims, in the Church of the Holy Cross to pray to our God, Almighty, to keep His eyes on our brothers and all the abducted, and to compass Syria and all East with the light of His glorified Resurrection.

Trading with people’s lives is an insult addressed to the Heavenly God Who created them free. Trading with people’s lives, especially by abducting them, is a kind of enslavement and despising to God Who put in them the tendency to live free. “How to enslave people, while their mothers brought them forth free?” So, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”.

We said it to the international community and to all organizations and to everyone who has “the power for binding and loosing” as we call it in our ecclesiastical terms. We thank you for every word of solidarity and for the feelings of fraternity, and every condemnation and denouncement.

But, and after waiting a full year, we proclaim that the international community holds the responsibility of the silence that covers this case with all its aspects, and ask them to do deeds rather than saying words. We’ve got enough promises and condemnations, lets translate our words through deeds to show the good intention.

From here, from Damascus, we sent the peace of Resurrection to our children in Aleppo, from the Orthodox Antioch to all our children in the diaspora. To Aleppo which paid and still paying, like other cities, the tax of war’s winter, we send the peace of Syria’s resurrection, Syria which is bleeding nowadays and longs for safety, but at the same time beats with the power of hope in a better future that we will build by Syrians’ arms.

No matter how hard the time will be, the future of this land belongs to her children. Strangers will not stay long. This is what history proves. In the twenties of the last century, Fares Al-Khury has been invited to the palace of General Gouraud at the beginning of the French mandate together with other men of the elite. Gouraudstarted the conversation asking: is this King Faysal’s house? It is really beautiful! Fares Al-Khury couldn’t hold his tongue, which found itself forced by the logic of history to answer. His words are ours today as they were at his time. He said: “many stayed in this house . It was built by the governor NazzemBasha and he left. Later, Jamal Basha came, and after Him King Faysal. All of them left, but we, the landowners, stayed”. This was Fares (the knight’s) message to Gouraud, and this is the Syrian’s message to the whole world, We will stay in our land despite the misery of the history. Even if they abducted us and insulted us, we will put our hope in our Lord Who knows the secrets of our hearts. We, the Christians and the Muslims of East are a Godly pottery, made by Creator’s hands. The hand of those who proclaim us unbelievers and destroy our life will be smite off by the history which reflects a true fraternity between the brothers who share the same land. Syria with its historical cities: Ugarit, Shahba, Palmyra and Maaloula should keep herself away of the ideologies which are strange of our civilization like: terrorism, abduction, bombs. Syria is an olive branch, don’t burn the olive on her land.

As for our abducted bishops we say: you are two messengers of love walking in the shadow of the Cross. You are a lantern in the middle of the darkness, a lantern that feeds from the oil of our hearts lightening the darkness of this world. We are with you through our prayers to the Lady Virgin to protect Syria and the whole East from the tribulations, and to help all the abducted to get back to their families, and to cover with Her care those who were taken away by sudden death on the anticipation of the last Resurrection.

Be with us, O Lord, send your divine light upon us. Heal our wounds with the power of our anticipation in you. Be a port of salvation. Console the abducted. Stay with the sick, the displaced, give us strength to console by our turn our brothers. Have mercy, O God, on our martyrs and calm down the hearts of their mothers with the touch of your Holy Spirit.

From the Holy Cross Church in Damascus, we send Resurrection’s peace to Syria, to Lebanon and East and to the whole world. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!


Patriarch Patriarch
Mar Ignatius Efraim II (Krayem) John X (Yazigi)