Monday, April 29, 2013

Update on Abducted Syrian Orthodox Hierarchs

Recent developments include the following strong statements from Orthodox hierarchs at home and abroad:

1. A very strongly worded and brave Pastoral Letter from Patriarch John X of Antioch, in which he says:

We, however, refuse to accept what man is undergoing today. We are working in that our rejection of this situation reflects the tenets of our beliefs. We reject this situation and condemn it. 
Since we are children of the Resurrection, we are not afraid of whoever takes violence to achieve his purpose. To be killed, or kidnapped, or to have our institutions destroyed, will not change our resolve to uphold our civil life and our co-existence; to cling to our homeland and to seek the reign of justice and rights in our homelands. 
Therefore, each and every one of us, whether in the Antiochian motherlands or abroad, is invited to express his concern and personal rejection of the recent course of events, aside from any political realignment. Humanity is the object of Christianity, for our Lord was incarnate for our salvation.

This shows a vibrant and resilient incarnational theology at work even and especially in the face of the barbaric Islamic forces arrayed against Christians throughout the Muslim world. Much more in the full letter from His Holiness here.

2. The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and South America have sent a strong letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in which they address not only the murderous abduction of Bishops John and Paul, but boldly name the Islamic forces arrayed against Christians in Syria and the Middle East:
Religious minorities, including the Christian population, have been targeted for extinction in an attempt to create an Islamic State in Syria and to impose Sharia Law as the law of the land. To that end, Christian clerics have been kidnapped and murdered, even as they tried to bring aid and comfort to their people in this war torn country, while others are still missing, taken captive by rebel forces. (emphasis added)
This is a most significant statement. The Canonical Assembly specifically warns that:
  • Christians are "targeted for extinction,"
  • due to "an attempt to create an Islamic state in Syria,"
  • which will "impose Sharia Law as the law of the land,"
  • which has already resulted in the kidnapping and murder of Christian clerics.

I, for one, am extremely heartened and encouraged by this clearly-worded and truthful assessment from our bishops. There is no tip-toeing around for fear of offending Muslims or damaging Christian-Muslim relations. Rather, it is obvious now that Islamic fundamentalism is the scourge of all peoples in Syria, the Middle East, and all around the globe. AXIOS to our bishops!

Much more in the full letter here.

3. On Online Petition to the White House has been launched to urge the Obama Administration to intervene on behalf of the abducted bishops. 100,000 signatures required by May 23, and as of this writing, there are less than 4,000:

Save Syrian Christians Bishops and Clergy men.
We the Syrian Christian expatriates in the USA, urge our government to interfere on behalf of all the innocent christian civilians, and clergy in Syria.
Two of our most beloved bishops (Yohanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi) were abducted recently near Aleppo while undertaking a humanitarian mission.
While the lives of many civilians (christians and non christians) are under constant threat and warrant equal concern; these two bishops were providing help and guidance to many.
We plead with you to exert pressure and influence to free them.
May God Bless you in your efforts.

Let us keep our beloved hierarchs John and Paul, and all Christians suffering under Islamic persecution, in our prayers!