“Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.” — Robert McManus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, February 8, 2013
These two bishops have been engaged in some particularly intense “dialogue”: “Grand Mufti of Syria: The kidnapped Orthodox bishops are alive and in Turkey,” from Asia News, October 29 (thanks to C. Cantoni):
Moscow ( AsiaNews) – The Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Hassoun Badreddin, the spiritual leader of Sunni Islam, claims he has information that the two Orthodox bishops of Aleppo, kidnapped in April, are alive and outside the country. The news was reported by Interfax-Religion. Elena Agapova, vice president of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, the Russian Orthodox organization that plays an active role in the Middle East and takes care of delivering aid to the Syrian population reports: “According to information from the mufti they are in Turkey.”
Agapova states that 28 October Hassoun met in Moscow with representatives of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society. The Grand Mufti believes that “there is the hand of the Chechen militants and Turkish services behind the kidnappings”. According to the Syrian spiritual leader, the kidnapping may be linked to Ankara’s request to transfer the seat of the patriarchate of Antioch from Syria to Turkey. During his visit to the Islamic University of Moscow, the same Hassoun complained that at least 2 thousand Russians, mostly from the North Caucasus , are fighting in the ranks of the armed opposition in Syria.
The Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi (the Orthodox Church of Antioch) and Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim (the Syrian Orthodox Church) were seized by a group of militants, who killed their driver. The two Orthodox leaders were engaged in humanitarian work in the village of Kafr Dael, near the Turkish -Syrian border. The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed “deep concern” about their fate. “In all this time we have had no news of where they are and how they are. There have been many rumors, but none of them has never been officially confirmed” Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate told AsiaNews late August. (N.A.)