Two Orthodox bishops seized last April 22 in Kafr Dael, 10 km from Aleppo, on the Turkish border are still in the hands of the kidnappers.
Sources tell AsiaNews that the negotiations are ongoing, nothing is yet known about the date of their alleged release, or the identity of the kidnappers, probably Chechen jihadists.
Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the diocese of Aleppo and Greek orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yaziji, of the diocese of the city, were negotiating the release of two priests Fr. Michel Kayyal (Armenian Catholic and Angelicum alumnus) and Fr. Maher Mahfouz (Greek-orthodox), seized in February and still in the hands of the kidnappers.
These days all the churches in Aleppo, Catholic and Orthodox, are organizing prayer vigils and masses for the salvation of the two prelates, the first to be kidnapped in two years of civil war between the Bashar al-Assad regime and rebels.
Greek-Melkite archbishop Jean Clement Jeanbart, has told AsiaNews that over 1,000 faithful participate every afternoon at vigils for Msgr. Ibrahim and Msgr. Yaziji in his cathedral and have been unsettled by recent conflicting reports of their release.
"These people - he said - depend on the information of Western media, the only ones who still have credibility in our country." However, for the prelate many international agencies prefer to rely on information provided by outside agencies instead of checking the facts on the ground, where the population is still able to communicate with the outside.
"For several months - he says - a dictatorship of" false information exists in Syria that creates confusion and false hopes."
"The Western media - the prelate continues - have a great responsibility cannot play with the lives and consciences of the people. There are men and women here who risk their lives to affirm and tell the truth and who will not stoop to bartering with religious groups or rebels or the regime.
"For the bishop every Christian, especially if consecrated and a pastor, has the duty to witness to and follow the path of truth in this land troubled not only by bombs, but also by hatred fomented through the lies.
Let us keep them all in our prayers.
Please support Fr. Kayyal in the Facebook page set up for him: https://www.facebook.com/SupportFrMichelKayal