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The kidnappers release the Greek Metropolitan of Aleppo Pavlos and Bishop Johanna Ibrahim

23 April 2013 / 23:04:11  GRReporter
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The two Orthodox bishops, who were kidnapped in war-torn Syria last night, were released late in the afternoon. Armed rebels abducted, on the border between Turkey and Syria, the Greek Metropolitan of Aleppo and brother of the Patriarch of Antioch, Pavlos, and the city’s Bishop Johanna Ibrahim.
AFP has disseminated the information received from a Christian organization called "L'oeuvre de l'Orient" ("The product of the Orient" – author’s note).

"The two bishops are already in the Orthodox Church "St. Elijah" in Aleppo," stated its members in their communication to the news agency.

Earlier, the opposition in Syria had accused the government in Damascus of organizing the kidnapping and denied any involvement in the case.

"They have kidnapped us and are taking us to a place that is close to the border between Syria and Turkey," read the message Metropolitan Pavlos had sent to his closest associates late last night. The fate of the two bishops was unknown from that moment until late afternoon on Tuesday.

A little earlier, the Syrian Orthodox Church confirmed the information. Some time ago, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Hilarion, had said that the two bishops had been kidnapped by groups of Wahhabi "who have been armed and financed by the foreign powers that have imposed the civil war in Syria."

The specific Chechen rebels in Syria are known as Chechen djihadists and according to the Russian Bishop, they have undertaken to exterminate all Christians in the region. The Maronite Church has spread similar information as well.

In September last year, Bishop Johanna had told Reuters that hundreds of Christian families had left Aleppo to escape the fierce fighting between the rebels and the forces of the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

"Aleppo has not experienced such critical and difficult moments in its modern history. Christians are mass victims of violent attacks and kidnappings. Their families pay huge sums to redeem them," he had said for the global agency.

For his part, the Greek Metropolitan of Aleppo Pavlos had said in January that the critical point was for the uprisings in different countries known as "Arab Spring" not to shake the centuries of religious diversity in the Middle East.

The Greek authorities were immediately informed of the kidnapping. The head of the Greek Orthodox Church Jerome was in constant contact with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is in Brussels for a meeting of the foreign ministers of NATO member countries.

Both Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis I called for the release of the two hierarchs.

Metropolitan Pavlos was ordained in 2000 becoming the spiritual mentor of the Metropolitan of Aleppo, half of which is in Syria, and the other half - in Turkey. He is considered one of the most active bishops of the Antiochian Patriarchate; the founding of parishes and monasteries, and the establishment of dormitories for students at the University of Aleppo being some of his acts.

About ten days ago, a missile was fired at the Archbishop's house.

Tags: Greek Metropolitan PavlosAleppoKidnappingSyriaCivil war
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