Contact NCC News Service: 212-870-2228  |  E-mail   |  Most Recent Stories   |  NCC Home

Ecumenical councils express dismay
over kidnapping of church leaders in Syria

Washington, April 24, 2013 – As dismay intensified over the kidnapping of two Christian leaders in Syria, the National Council of Churches USA and World Council of Churches have sent to their members the call of Greek and Syriac patriarchs to “stand fast in the face of what is going on and witness to their faith in the power of love in this world.”

On Monday, 22 April, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi of Aleppo and Alexandretta and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo were kidnapped en route to Aleppo by unknown assailants after returning from a humanitarian mission near the Turkish border region.

Their driver, Fatha’ Allah Kabboud, a deacon in the Syriac Orthodox Church, was killed in the incident.

National Council of Churches President Kathryn Lohre expressed “anger and sorrow at the assault on church leaders, especially those involved in humanitarian aid at the time of the kidnapping.”

The communique from Patriarch Jhon X Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East and Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, expressed surprise and deep regret over the situation.

The patriarchs called on the kidnappers to “respect the life of the two kidnapped brothers as well as everyone to put an end to all the acts that create confessional and sectarian schisms among the sons of the one country.”

Anxiety grew over the fate of the leaders as conflicting reports circulated this week about their potential release.

Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations, expressed sorrow for the death of the driver, Fatha’ Allah Kabboud, at the hands of the kidnappers.

“All persons of faith and good will pray for the release of the leaders,” Kireopoulos said. “We are concerned for the safety of all people in the region, but especially Christians who are again being pressed in a very explosive situation. God grant that peace will soon return to the region.

The World Council of Churches press release on which this report is based, can be read here:


Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 40 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 646-853-4212 (cell),


NCC Home Page