Lebanese faith leaders seek global aid for kidnapped bishops

The Greek Orthodox and Maronite Catholic patriarchs of Lebanon have urged the international community to help resolve the abductions of two Orthodox archbishops in Syria.

"The abduction of the two archbishops is among several other kidnapping cases that we can't remain inactive about," Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna Yazigi of the Levant and Antioch said at an Aug. 31 news conference.

He said that help is necessary to discover the fate of the abductees, the Lebanese news site Naharnet reports.

"We are certain the international community could resolve the case."

More than four months ago, Archbishop John Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Archbishop Paul Yagizi of the Greek Orthodox Church were kidnapped near Aleppo in northern Syria by armed men who killed their driver, Deacon Fatha' Allah Kabboud.

The identity of the kidnappers and the whereabouts of the kidnapped bishops remain unknown.

The archbishops had been on a humanitarian mission to help two kidnapped priests.

Maronite Catholic Patriarch Beshara Rai of Antioch joined his Greek Orthodox counterpart to demand the archbishops' release.

Patriarch Youhanna said that the archbishops' kidnappers know the consequences their actions will have on developments in the region.

Syria is in the midst of a civil war that has killed over 100,000 people and forced over two million to become refugees and 4.25 million to become internally displaced.

The U.S. and French governments are considering a military strike on Syria, charging that the Bashar al-Assad regime has used chemical weapons on its own people.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York in April appealed for the release of the archbishops, saying they are "two men of peace" whose kidnapping is "a sign of the terrible violence that is destroying the fabric of Syrian society."

Both the Catholic and Orthodox patriarch called on western countries to resolve the Syrian conflict "through peaceful and diplomatic means," Fides news agency reports.

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