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Orthodox patriarch pleads for negotiated peace in Syria, grateful for Pope's help

Catholic World News - September 27, 2013

The worldwide day of prayer for peace in Syria, organized on September 8 by Pope Francis, was “a very important message to all the world,” the head of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch told Vatican Radio.

Patriarch Youhanna Yazigi said that the Christians of Syria were particularly grateful for the Pope’s support, and “all our people participated that day.”

The Orthodox Patriarch met with Pope Francis on Friday and will join him at Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square. He said that the meeting was an important step in “our progression toward unity,” observing that the Church of Antioch has always enjoyed friendly ties with Rome.

Regarding the conflict in Syria, the Orthodox prelate said that “we ask all the governments to help us and to push all the countries to help Syria to find a solution through dialogue.” That plea, he said, is addressed with special urgency to Russia, the US, and Europe.

Patriarch Youhanna said that in his conversation with the Pope he had also discussed his concerns about his brother, the Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi of Aleppo, who was kidnapped by Syrian rebels in April and remains in custody.

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