As part of an official visit to Doha, Qatar, Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, appealed for help gaining the release of two kidnapped Syrian bishops and three priests, reports The Catholic Herald.
Maronite Archbishop Paul Sayah, patriarchal vicar, told Catholic News Service in an email sent on October 23 from Qatar that the kidnapping of the two bishops and the three priests had been on the agenda with the three officials Cardinal Rai had already met: Qatar’s prime minister, the minister of culture and the emir.
Archbishop Sayah, who was traveling with the cardinal, said the officials “all promised to do their utmost to find out who their kidnappers are and their whereabouts, and help, in any way possible, to secure their release.”
Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna of Aleppo and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo were kidnapped on April 22 in northern Syria while on a humanitarian mission. Several priests also have been kidnapped this year.
Archbishop Sayah told CNS he found it “very strange and utterly unacceptable that no one has been able to locate the bishops and the priests after all this time, knowing that each one of the rebel factions is financed and presumably directed by one country or another.”
He said the effect of the kidnappings “has contributed to making the Christians of Syria in particular feel all the more vulnerable, and consequently more inclined to leave if they can.”
Photo: Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X and Cardinal Bechara Rai, talk in Bkerke, the Maronite patriarchate north of Beirut