.- Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a plea for the release of two kidnapped Orthodox archbishops in Syria.

“The kidnapping of two men of peace is a sign of the terrible violence that is destroying the fabric of Syrian society,” Cardinal Dolan said in an April 26 statement.

He explained that the plight of the archbishops, along with the murder of their driver, “continue to weigh heavily on the hearts of people of good will.”

On April 22, Archbishop John Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Archbishop Paul Yagizi of the Greek Orthodox Church were kidnapped near Aleppo, Syria by armed men who appear to have killed their driver.

It remains unclear who carried out the kidnapping. The Syrian government and rebel groups have both traded accusations over who is to blame.

Cardinal Dolan said the men “remain in our prayers.” He joined Pope Francis in “praying that they may return to their communities soon.”

“Ironically, the two men were returning from a mission of mercy to aid Syrians suffering from the violence gripping their nation when they were accosted,” he observed.

The cardinal pledged to “continue to work through all channels with the Holy See, the diplomatic and international community and all agencies of good will.”

“I plead for their release and for a political solution that ends the violence and protects the citizenship rights of all Syrians, including minorities,” he said.

Tags: Syria, Kidnapping