Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi has congratulated the families of the nine pilgrims who were released on Saturday following a 17-month kidnapping ordeal in Syria but called for setting free two bishops and three priests abducted there.

During a mass on a pastoral visit to the Metn district, al-Rahi said: “We congratulate their relatives on their safe return but we pray specially for the release of Bishops Boulos Yazigi and Youhanna Ibrahim and the three priests who were kidnapped months ago.”

Ibrahim, head of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Aleppo and Yazigi, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Aleppo, were on a humanitarian mission when they were kidnapped at the end of April in a village in northern Syria’s Aleppo province.

“We pray that this humanitarian tragedy ends,” al-Rahi told worshipers in his sermon. He described the ongoing abductions as an “assault on human dignity.” [Link]