Antiochian Patriarchate responds to reports about kidnapped bishops

Damascus, January 20, 2020

Photo: Facebook Photo: Facebook     

The Antiochian Orthodox Church has issued an official statement on the recent reports concerning the fate of the two missing Syrian bishops, Boulos Yazigi, Antiochian Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and Alexandretta and brother of Orthodox Patriarch John X, and Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, who were kidnapped by Muslim rebels in the vicinity of Aleppo on April 22, 2013.

As OrthoChristian reported last week, a new investigation led by Mansur Salib, a Syrian researcher in the United States, concluded that the two hierarchs were killed in December 2016. Although, as reported, via Agenzia Fides, the report’s claims sometimes “blurred clues” or “aggregate[ed] information without objective evidence.”

The new statement from the Antiochian Patriarchate notes that they receive various reports about the bishops’ fates on a daily basis, but they can neither confirm nor deny them. The Church calls on all to continue praying for the missing hierarchs.

The statement, posted on the Patriarchate’s Facebook page, reads in full:

A Statement Regarding Recent Reports on the Two Missing Archbishops of Aleppo

Over the past couple of months, many worrying reports and claims regarding the case and fate of the two Archbishops Boulos Yaziji and Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim who were kidnapped on April 22, 2013 in the western countryside of Aleppo – Syria, went viral in media outlets.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, have been closely monitoring these reports that are totally independent from our relentless efforts and endeavors in the search for our two missing Archbishops and we are determined to leave no stone unturned until we identify their whereabouts and their fate.

In that respect, we neither confirm nor deny the validity of these reports, or the different other claims we have been receiving from various sources on a daily basis.

While we extend our sincere gratitude to all individuals and entities who are concerned about the fate of our Archbishops and especially those who are undertaking initiatives to help shed the light on their ordeal, we ask all to pray for the two Archbishops and invite all those who can help our official endeavors in bringing this humanitarian case to an end to contact the churches through the official, designated channels.

            20 January 2020

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Fr. John Claypool1/22/2020 3:40 am
With all due respect to The Patriarch of Antioch, he would request that we don’t believe the new report that the missing bishops were murdered in 2016. Yet, he gives no more information supporting the possibility that the bishops are still alive 7 years after their kidnapping by ISIS. Of course, the families of the bishops do not want to hear of their beloved demise. Of course, we want to believe they are still alive. Before I became a priest, I worked in Intelligence and Counter Terrorism for 19 years. In 2014 I had heard from friends of mine in the US government that the bishops were deceased. I did not report on what I had learned for fear the information was wrong. I believe now this new report of their demise is accurate. It is almost impossible that a kidnap victim is still alive 7 years later without credible evidence, like photographs, or audio recordings. I know the Church has been contacted by alleged kidnappers asking for payment for the release of the bishops. Later they found there was no truth to the story. I will continue to pray for the kidnapped bishops. Through Christ, Jesus, Fr. John
Gary Cox1/20/2020 2:30 pm
YES, continue our prayers!!!
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