Uncertainity over the whereabouts and safey of two Syrian church leaders kidnapped in Syria on Monday continues and the patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox churches have issued a joint message urging the abductors to respect the lives of the bishops.
"We deeply regret what happened as we regret all similar acts targeting civilians, regardless of their belonging," said Patriarch John 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.
"We call 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," said the patriarchs Wednesday.
In their statement released by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East they called on churches around the world to "stand fast in the face of what is going on and witness to their faith in the power of love in this world."
The statement noted that on Monday, April 23, 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.
They were 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.
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.
Both churches are members of the World Council of Churches and they released their statement through the Geneva-based WCC.
The patriarchs said, "We take the opportunity to call our partners in citizenship, from all islamic confessions, to stand hand in hand and work on refusing the misuse of man and deal with him as a product, a shield in the battles or a means for monetary or political bribery."
Sunni Muslims account for 74 percent of Syria's 22 million people, while other Muslim groups such as Alawites and Druze make up 16 percent.
Christians make up about 10 percent of the population, and there are some tiny Jewish communities in big cities such as Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo.