For three months now, members of my parish just south of Baltimore have been praying for the release of some of our sisters in the faith in Syria, along with two kidnapped bishops.
Thus, I was thankful when the news spread recently that they had been released. I was also glad to see that their release was covered by The New York Times. It felt like a nod of respect for an oppressed minority religious group in a suffering land.
However, as I read this report I noticed something rather strange. Here is the top of the story:
BEIRUT, Lebanon – Syrian insurgents released 13 nuns and three attendants who disappeared three months ago from their monastery in the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, Lebanese and Syrian officials said …, ending a drama in which rebels said they were protecting the women from government shelling and Syrian officials said they were abducted in an act of intimidation against Christians.
The handoff was infused with suspense until the last moment. Officials said Sunday afternoon that the nuns had crossed the mountainous border to Arsal, a pro-rebel town in Lebanon, to be handed off to Lebanese officials and driven to Syria.
But amid reports of last-minute problems, reporters and government supporters waited hours at the border with no sign of the nuns. Finally, early Monday, the Lebanese channel Al Jadeed showed the black-clad nuns at the border, beaming, as one embraced a Lebanese security official and officers carried another.
Mother Pelagia Sayaf, the head of the Mar Taqla monastery in Maaloula, thanked President Bashar al-Assad, saying he had worked with Qatari officials for their release. She said the nuns were “treated very well” by the insurgents and were not prevented from wearing religious symbols. Some had speculated that similar declarations on videos from captivity were forced.
This story does a good job of describing the complex nature of the negotiations that may, or may not, have led to the release of the nuns. All of the political fine points are discussed, as they should be.
The story also includes quite a bit of information about the abduction of the nuns.
All well and good. But two crucial pieces of information are missing from this report (maybe three).