A statement issued by the Secretariat of the Patriarchate of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East – Damascus
After a regional and international silence for a period in excess of three months regarding the kidnapping of the two Archbishops Mor Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim and Mor Boulos Yazigi which took place on 22nd April. In recent days news and rumors about the two Archbishops, their kidnappers in addition to speculations and allegations about the reasons behind this coward act have emerged.

The Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus and in regards to these issues confirms the following:

1- The Patriarchate condemns the kidnapping of the two Archbishops and two priests no matter what are the reasons or motives behind such act. The Patriarchate rejects the attack on any religious symbols of any religion Christianity or Islam, and confirms that their case is now the case of Christians in the Middle East and the world, has also become an issue of public opinion, and the history will hold those responsible accountable and we are waiting for a convincing response from those figures who have been accused of the kidnapping.

2- That Damascus “Fayhaa” the capital of Syria is the official and sole residence of the Holy See of Antioch, and there is no intention to move it to anywhere else, which is rejected by His Holiness Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas and all members of the Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church, as well as all the entire population of our church worldwide.
The Church - ecclesiastical leadership and people – insist on keeping the residence of our See in its current location in Damascus as a result of our awareness of the seriousness of any transfer to any other location which could result in a loss of rights and legal legitimacy as well as a melt in the crucible of communities and other nationalities and thus the extinction of the Church and its heritage. The presence of the Syrian Orthodox people in Syria, as well as their national presence in modern Syria is the only guarantee for the continuation of this church without being tainted by any reproach, or that there will be attempts to destroy it. We are not only interested in the survival of the See of Antioch in Syria, but our main concern is for our people to remain in Syria and in every part of the Syrian territory, encouraging them to engage in national life and the Syrian political sphere and have national, civilized and cultural roles as the case was with their parents and grandparents in the past in unity with our fellow Muslims and the rest of the Christian communities in Syria.

3- The Patriarchate is proud of all their Eminences the esteemed members of our Holy Synod and completely rejects the accusation of the involvement of any of them in the kidnapping of the two Archbishops and such accusation is truly absurd.

4- His Holiness the Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, is in good health, and frequents the hospital for years on regular basis for dialysis purposes only and manages the Patriarchate and heads its Holy Synod in all wisdom and knowledge, God willing, for many years to come.

We pray for the repose of the souls of all martyrs of our homeland
We pray and long for the freedom of the two Archbishops and all other kidnapped
Long live Syria

Issued by the Secretariat of the Patriarchate of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East in Damascus on Sunday 4th August 2013.