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Message from The Patriarchal Locum Tenens on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the kidnapping of Bishops

April 19, 2014

Your Eminences, the Archbishops of the Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church and All our Spiritual Children, Clergy and Laity alike,

Shlomo-Peace in our Lord
It is with great sadness and sorrow that we write to you on the one-year anniversary of the kidnapping of our beloved two bishops Boulos Yaziji and Mor Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim who were kidnapped in the suburbs of Aleppo by an unknown group. While the Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Patriarchates have done all what is possible to obtain information through various governments and international humanitarian organizations, the fate of the two bishops remains unknown. The late Thrice Blessed Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwaz has personally endeavored to do all that can be done for this cause, forming special committees to keep after the matter both in Syria and Lebanon. Their Eminences the Archbishops have also done their best in this regard.

Moreover, the hard work of His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II with respect to the cause of the kidnapped bishops is well known to all of us. His Holiness began to work on this prior to his election since the moment he heard about it, not to mention his commitment and work since the moment of his election. Let us all pray to the Lord to support His Holiness as he continues to work hard on this issue.

Dearly beloved in the Lord: The lack of information, rather its complete absence, makes us more committed to the cause of the two bishops. As such, we pray to God to keep them safe while they are imprisoned and to return them safely to their diocese, for prayer is the strongest weapon that we have now as we were taught by our Lord Jesus Christ. Millions of people have shared their prayers with us all around the world.

May these holy days of Passion and Resurrection be a source of comfort to the Church, for there is no Resurrection without the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Sheppard Who forsake himself on our behalf. He never leaves us in our hour of need as he guides our lives in this difficult time. Indeed, this was the mission and message of our two brothers, Bishop Boulos Yaziji and Mor Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim, who worked tirelessly for the sake of peace.

Let us continue to pray for their release and for all our brothers in Christ who are experiencing hardships. It is my duty to pass on to you the instructions of His Holiness to offer prayers ـ and especially the Qurobo Liturgy ـ on behalf of the kidnapped bishops, as well as the other kidnapped priests and lay people, on Tuesday of Resurrection, April 22, 2014, in all our churches in the world.

May the Lord accept your fast and prayers. May he grant you a blessed Easter.

Christ is Risen… He is Risen indeed.
ܡܫܝܚܐ ܩܡ.... ܫܪܝܪܐܝܬ ܩܡ

Your brother in Christ
Mor Severius Hawa
Patriarchal Locum Tenens
And Metropolitan of Baghdad and Basra

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