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Syrian rebels kidnap 2 prelates

Catholic World News - April 23, 2013

Syrian rebels have kidnapped two prominent Orthodox prelates while they were traveling outside Aleppo, the nation’s largest city.

The abductions, which took place April 22, highlighted the difficulties being experienced by Syria's Christian minority. One of the kidnap victims, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo, had said last September that “in its modern history Aleppo has not seen such critical and painful times” and that “Christians have been attacked and kidnapped in monstrous ways.”

The other kidnap victim was Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi of Aleppo.

The Vatican released a statement saying that Pope Francis is praying for the safety of the kidnapped prelates and praying also that "the Syrian people may finally see tangible responses to the humanitarian drama and real hopes of peace and reconciliation rise on the horizon." The statement noted that the abductions were "a dramatic confirmation of the tragic situation in which the Syrian population and its Christian community is living."

The Reuters news service reported that the two bishops had been released unharmed on Monday afternoon. No further details on the identity or motives of the kidnappers were available.

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