We, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, have been prayerfully following the ongoing violence, bloodshed, and conflict in Syria, which started in March 2011. Everyday tens or sometimes hundreds of people are killed because of the current conflict, and thousands are left without homes or shelters as they keep moving aimlessly in search of security, food and treatment.
A couple of weeks ago, two of our own Metropolitan bishops of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch were kidnapped, and their driver was murdered, while they were delivering some humanitarian aid to some displaced families in the region. This horrific act of kidnapping two senior clergymen is yet another sign of the tragic situation in Syria, and an extremely dangerous and new phenomenon in our region.
Our hearts and minds go out to all the people of Syria, particularly our Christian communities and their spiritual leaders, who undergo suffering and violence and ill-treatment. And we call upon all people who are involved in the conflict to seek after peace and stability for the sake of all Syrians, and to end this cycle of violence and bloodshed. We also urge for the immediate release of Bishops Ibrahim and Yazigi and their safe return to their Churches and their faithful people.
We also join our voices with our sister Churches in Syria and call upon our ancient Christian communities to remain steadfast in their faith and hope, and we pray with them and for them at this time of turmoil and chaos for their safety and continuous presence and witness. As St. Paul writes to the Romans: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
The Heads of Churches of Jerusalem
+Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
+Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchate
+Patriarch Norhan Manougian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
+Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
+Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
+Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Aba Fissiha Tsion, Locum Tenens of the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate
+Archbishop Moussa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
+Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
+Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
+Bishop Pierre Melki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
+Msgr. Joseph Antoine Kelekian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate