Statement issued from the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch
Statement issued from the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, Balamand, on 30th August 2013
I raised my eyes to the mountains where I receive my help.
Our countries are passing through a difficult phase and challenging circumstances with their peoples being threatened by several dangers. This painful situation in which we find ourselves and in which the lives of many are threatened by killing, kidnapping, forced immigration and the use of weapons of mass destruction, violation of international law, bombs everywhere destroying the security of individuals and home countries and religion being used to implant division between compatriots, make us feel sad. The war continues to threaten our homelands and the possibilities for peace seem to be diminished. In the midst of all these circumstances our Church is well rooted in this land and we insist on certain common principles as the basis for her involvement in public affairs. She demands that international organizations adopt appropriate steps which would promote the protection of the inhabitants of these lands. She invites all interested states to abandon, directly or indirectly, all their private narrow interests in order to help prepare an appropriate context for Syria to arrive at the fundamentals of a political and peaceful solution through the logic of dialogue rather than that of deadly conflict.
We also insist on inviting all UN bodies to adopt new approaches to return security to the people of this region who pay a high price as a result of these conditions in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt. We proclaim this loudly to public and international opinion, for the tragedies are repeating unchecked and impinging on every formerly secure house of our cities and villages. We condemn every violation of freedom and every act which harms human dignity. Such a violation is condemned through the logic of the divine instinct implanted in the heart of every single human being, through the logic of Gospel and through the teachings of Christ the Lord, the Messenger of love and peace, as well as through the provisions of international agreements. This is our approach as a Church and as a people facing what is happening now. We do not consider ourselves to be a religious minority and we will not allow anyone to consider us as such, but only through the perspective of national responsibility and full citizenship. We will work with all those of good intention to arrive at one complete national attitude springing from our conventions about man, society and the role of politics in the growth of culture. The kidnapping of our two brothers, the Metropolitans Youhanna (Ebrahim) and Paul (Yazigi) is one of these cases which confronts our citizens and in the face of which we cannot remain without response.
On this occasion we are obliged to remind all that four months has passed since this sorrowful event. This period has been full of guesses, rumours and analysis about the reasons for the kidnapping, the circumstances of their capture and their fate. During these months, our Church has remained in continuous prayer and she has kept on supplicating God Almighty to overshadow them with His mercy. She has done all this with a complete awareness that our behaviour as the faithful living in love and peace, cannot but be in total accord with our faith, well rooted in the cross and deep-rooted in the resurrection. While our hearts and the hearts of our people have been warmed with prayers and supplications for the safe return of the two beloved bishops and all the kidnapped, the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has done her best by contacting all international and regional channels and by knocking on all ecclesiastical, regional and international doors. In spite of all this, we have not obtained certain and sure information about this deeply human matter in any comprehensive way. We thank all for these efforts engaged in this matter and appreciate all those noble human attitudes and efforts which have shown solidarity and help, although they have not led to the expected goal. The kidnappers, those who are behind them and those who cover their crime, are aware of the bad consequences of this kidnapping of two such Christian people in the region and among its inhabitants.
As a community convicted of her cultural role and being an integral part of the society of this land, we insist on being in total harmony with our historical legacy. We shall therefore remain deep-rooted in this land, always trying to remain as messengers of peace and dialogue. In spite of all, we condemn what has happened and we wonder at the absence of effective efforts to put an end to this painful reality. We also wonder much at the lack of information. We shall plan for continuing rounds of visits aiming to bring a good end to this matter as soon as possible. Silence does nothing but encourage us to demand the immediate release of the Metropolitans, and all those kidnapped. We consider international society to be responsible for putting an end to this situation. We wish also that good efforts might prevail in the entire region. We hear this international society often pretending to cry for Christians in the East and to feel sorrow for what it calls their bad situations. However, we do not need this consolation since our fate in our countries is the same fate as that of our compatriots with whom we have lived in love and harmony for a long time. We do need real assistance to discover the fate of our brothers and we are convinced that the international society has the capacity, if it wants, to resolve this question.
We pray to God to have mercy on those who have died due to this situation; to console the hearts of the sad and to strengthen those passing through tribulation.
May Almighty God protect us with His right hand and give inspiration for a good path ahead.