Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Archbishop Paul Yagizi of the Greek Orthodox Church were kidnapped April 22 near Aleppo, Syria. Their driver was killed.
The archbishops were on a humanitarian mission to try to secure the release of hostages who had been kidnapped previously.
A Vatican spokesman said that Pope Francis is following this situation closely and with “intense prayer.” The Vatican Press Director, Fr Federico Lombardi, said:
The assault on the archbishops “and the killing of their driver, while carrying out a humanitarian mission, is a dramatic confirmation of the tragic situation faced by the people of Syria and its Christian communities.”
Pope Francis, he said, is praying that, “with the commitment of all, the Syrian people will finally discover effective answers to the humanitarian tragedy and see on the horizon real hopes for peace and reconciliation.”
On April 17, Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham said that 2 million Syrians have been forced to leave their homes and over 1,000 Christians have been killed and 20 churches destroyed in Syria’s conflict.
Christians make up between 5 and 10 percent of Syria’s population.
As often happens in these situations, there is confusion about who is responsible for the kidnapping. According to an article in the Gaurdian: