ASIA/SYRIA - Holy Week of the Eastern Churches begins in the sign of the bishops kidnapped
Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - The Christian communities in Syria are working together to plead for the release of the two bishops of Aleppo kidnapped – the Syrian-Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and the Greek-Orthodox Boulos al-Yazigi - through prayer vigils, liturgical celebrations, demonstrations and sit-ins, but also in the country torn by civil war the rites of Holy Week for the Eastern Churches have begun.
The Syrian Orthodox Church, with a message issued by the Patriarchate based in Damascus, has called on all his children to live the strong period of Easter "in a spirit of prayer and penance," suggesting to set aside the aspects that traditionally accompanied the festive liturgy of Palm Sunday, celebrated yesterday, Sunday, April 28. In a statement sent to Fides Agency, the Syrian-Orthodox Patriarchate has also confirmed expressions with regret that, given the moment of sadness and apprehension shared by all, this year the traditional forms with which bishops and priests welcome the visits made to them by the representatives of Islam, on the occasion of the Christian holidays will have a low key.
The leaders of the Christian churches in Damascus convened a prayer vigil held on Sunday evening, April 28, in the Greek-Orthodox church of the Holy Cross, in the district of Kassa'a, to invoke the release of the two priests kidnapped. Even in Aleppo, on Saturday evening, April 27, a prayer vigil was held in the Greek-Orthodox cathedral: "The Church was full. It was a simple prayer and lived with great dignity." Says to Fides Agency the Chaldean bishop of Aleppo Antoine Audo SJ, who attended the moment of prayer together with Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Metropolitan Archbishop of Aleppo of the Greek Melkites and fifteen Catholic priests. "There is widespread sadness" said Mgr. Audo, "nobody wants to create situations of celebration."
The Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch Yohanna X al-Yazigi, Bishop Boulos’ brother, from Damascus, in a letter sent to Fides, dated Saturday, April 27, instructs to replace with other prayers liturgical hymns that express on Palm Sunday jubilation for the entry of Jesus in Jerusalem. The Greek-Orthodox Patriarch in the letter also repeated the appeal to the international community "so that people work together to promote the release of the bishops kidnapped", insisting that violence, however, "will not diminish our determination to uphold the principles of coexistence, remaining rooted in our land, and working to assert the right and justice."
Even Christians of Kamishly in the Syrian Mesopotamia, on Saturday morning, April 27, after Mass in the Syrian-Orthodox church dedicated to Mary, gave birth to a public demonstration attended by clergy and faithful of all the Churches and Christian communities of the city, calling for the release of the bishops kidnapped. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 29/04/2013)
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