World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

You are here: Home / Press centre / News / Ecumenical community offers prayer for missing archbishops

Ecumenical community offers prayer for missing archbishops

25 April 2013

Two Christian bishops from Aleppo, Syria, were supported in prayer at a special service in the chapel of the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva on Thursday, 25 April.

The two archbishops reportedly were kidnapped, and a deacon driving them was killed, while they were undertaking a joint humanitarian mission near the Turkish border north of Aleppo on Monday, 22 April.

The two abducted church leaders are the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim, and the Greek Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Paul Yazigi. The murdered driver has been identified as Fatha’ Allah Kabboud, a deacon in the Syriac Orthodox Church.

The Syrian government and anti-government rebels have accused one another of these crimes, but no group has claimed responsibility.

The prayer service in Geneva was led by Romanian and Russian Orthodox priests and introduced by Yorgo Lemopoulos, deputy general secretary of the World Council of Churches.

The congregation was made up of persons representing a wide variety of nationalities, churches and Geneva-based organizations.

In addition to prayers for the archbishops and their flocks, intercessions were offered for “the liberation of all clergy and people who are held captive in Syria and in other parts of the world.”

A chanted Aramaic refrain used throughout the service, “Moran ethra hama’lain” – “Lord, have mercy upon us”  –  was sung in a version attributed to Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim.

Read communique from Greek and Syriac patriarchs

Read WCC general secretary condemnation of kidnapping

Member churches in the Middle East

Follow WCC general secretary on Twitter @OlavTveit