28-January-2014 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Orthodox Patriarchs Appeal for End to Syrian Conflict

Send Message to Participants of Geneva II Peace Conference

GENEVA, January 28, 2014 (Zenit.org) - In a joint statement to the Geneva II Peace Conference, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Yohanni X Yazigi of Antioch have called on international leaders to put an end to the violence ravaging Syria.

Negotiations are underway at the peace conference between the government of Syrian President Bashir Al-Assad and opposition groups. The ongoing civil war has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrians for the past several years.

According to Fides News Agency, the Patriarchs invited the participants of the conference to "reject extremist demonstrations" as well as to end "intolerance and political ultimatums.

"Only free and fraternal dialogue within the Syrian community can pave the way to a peaceful solution of the crisis," the letter stated.

The Orthodox Primates also called attention to Christians who have been kidnapped in the conflict. As of now, there has been no news of the fate of those abducted, which include two Metropolitan Bishops of Aleppo. Syrian Orthodox Bishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yazigi, brother of Patriarch Yohanni, were abducted in April 2013. Also missing since last December are a group of nuns from the convent of St. Tekla in Maalula.

"We call on all parties to show humanity and mercy as a sign of their desire to restore peace in Syria," the letter states. Concluding their message, the Patriarchs also appealed for an end to the destruction of the cultural and religious heritage of Syria, calling it "a crime against future generations." (J.A.E.)

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