Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch

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The Great Lent (Sawmo Rabo) Sunday, March 1 - Sunday, April 20, 2014

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A delegation from the Archdiocese visits the congress

On Thursday April 25, 2013 a delegation of our Syriac community from New Jersey and Washington DC consisted of  Father Fadi Abdel-Ahed, Mike Naim Ghassali, Sam Alos, Gabe Adamo, Jack Henawi and Jay Gazal, visited several members of the Senate and Congress including Senator John McCain  of Arizona,  Senator Tim Kain of Virginia, Congressman Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Congresswoman Sherry Bustos of Illinois.  They met to inform the members of Congress of the kidnapping of our two Bishops and asked them to immediately contact the State Department to demand action for safe resolution.  The delegation continues to be  in contact with Senators and Congress staff for followups. 
 
Below is the text copy of the letter from Congressman Garrett to Secretary of State John Kerry.
 
April 26, 2013
Dear Secretary Kerry:
 
As unrest and instability continues in the Middle East, the United States must remain steadfast and vigilant in our defense of the rights of religious minorities in the region. Disturbing reports about the stark situation facing Christians in Egypt, Libya, Syria and other nations have consistently come out of the region since the start of the Arab Spring two years ago.
 
The plight of two Syrian bishops has recently come to my attention. His Eminence Paul Yazigi, Bishop of Aleppo and Alexandretta in the Orthodox Church of Antioch, and His Eminence John Ibrahim, Bishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo, were kidnapped by armed gunmen as they returned to their dioceses from a visit to Turkey earlier this week. According to reports, the bishops were on a mission of mercy when their car was ambushed in the volatile border region. Their driver was killed by the militants, who have been described by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as Islamic militants from Chechnya.
 
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, and other Christian and religious leaders worldwide have called for the bishops’ release. As the representative of a congressional district with one of America’s largest and most vibrant Syrian Christian communities, I deplore this kidnapping. Next week marks the start of Holy Week for Orthodox Christians, and I urge you to work for their release by Orthodox Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the year for this community. Please let me know by no later than May 1, 2013, as to what actions you plan to take on this issue of great importance to my constituents. I await your prompt reply.

Signed, Scott Garrett

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