14-August-2013 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Bishop Timotheus Matta Fadil Alkhourt Calls for End of Speculates on Fate of Syrian Bishops

Syrian Orthodox Prelate Addresses Unconfirmed Rumors on Abductions

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME, August 14, 2013 (Zenit.org) - The Patriarchal Assistant of the Syrian Orthodox Church called for an end to speculations on the fate of two Bishops of Aleppo who were recently kidnapped. According to Fides News Agency, Metropolitan Timotheus Matta Fadil Alkhourt of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch stated that though new reports surface, nothing is known on their whereabouts so far.

"Every week some politician or some journalist pulls out some story on the two Metropolitan Bishops of Aleppo kidnapped," Metropolitan Alkhourt said. "But so far they have always been unverifiable deductions. The reality is that almost four months have gone since their kidnapping and we do not know who kidnapped them."

On April 22, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek-Orthodox Bishop Boulos al-Yazigi were kidnapped by unknown abductors during a humanitarian mission.

Bishop Alkhouri addressed the latest unconfirmed rumors on their whereabouts that came from the United States. Fides News Agency reported that an anonymous source attributed information from US Congressman Charlie Dent, stating that the two prelates are still alive and are being held hostage in a Turkish territory of Islamist groups.

The source also claims that the kidnapping involves a "plot" to move the seat of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate from Damascus to Turkey, and influence the succession of the current Syrian Orthodox Patriarch, 80 year-old Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas.

The Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate recently denounced any claims that the patriarchal seat will be moved as well as refuting speculations that intra-ecclesiastical rivalry is among the reasons for the kidnapping of the two bishops.

"The truth is that today we do not know who really kidnapped them. We pray that God will protect them," Bishop Alkhouri told Fides. "So far we have had no clue that could contradict the hope that they are alive and in good health. We would only like to find real and serious contacts with those who really know what we must do to favor their release".

In the given conditions," he added, "we only care to have news from: governments, NGOs, the police and people of good will in those areas - and any other relevant information concerning the concrete situation of bishops Ibrahim and al-Yazigi, and also that of the Armenian Catholic priest Michel Kayyal and the Greek Orthodox Maher Mahfouz, kidnapped on February 9th."

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