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Prayers for the safety of Syrian archbishops

The Uniting Church in Australia has offered prayers for the safety and well-being of two Christian bishops reported kidnapped in Syria earlier this week.

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia's national Assembly, Rev Professor Andrew Dutney has condemned the kidnapping in which a deacon was killed, and urged Church members to join in prayer for their safe release.

"The Uniting Church in Australia deplores this senseless act of violence against our Christian brothers carrying out their ministry," said Rev Prof Dutney.

"Our prayers and our deepest sympathies are with the deacon who was killed, his family and colleagues."

"We pray to God for the safety and security of Archbishop Ibrahim and Archbishop Yazigi for their congregations and for the people of Syria,"

"We pray also for peace in Syria and the liberation of clergy and people held captive there and in other parts of the world."

The Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim, and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Paul Yazigi were kidnapped, and a deacon driving them was killed, while they were undertaking a joint humanitarian mission near the Turkish border north of Aleppo.

The murdered driver has been identified as Fatha' Allah Kabboud, a deacon in the Syriac Orthodox Church.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack and the whereabouts of the two men remain unclear.

"I urge Uniting Church members to remember their Christian brothers and sisters in Syria in their intercessions in the days and weeks ahead," said Rev Prof Dutney.