SYRIA, June 4, 2013–”For months, kidnappings have been a silent scourge that affects hundreds of families. Syrians are terrified by criminal acts that have many authors and purposes. Some abductions are carried out by gangs for money; others, are ethnic, religious or political in nature,” said Mgr Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in Damascus. He spoke to AsiaNews about the wave of abductions that has swept over the country.

In yesterday’s Angelus, Pope Francis spoke about it. After expressing closeness to the people of Syria, affected by two years of war, the pope made an appeal on behalf of those who disappeared in the past few months.

“I wish,” he said, “to assure my prayers and my solidarity for those who are being held in captivity and for their families, and I appeal to the humanity of the kidnappers to free their victims. Let us pray for our beloved Syria”.

For Mgr Zenari, Pope Francis’s closeness is “crucial at a time when tragedy and suffering caused by kidnappings deeply affect people already cut down by violence, clashes between rebels and the regime, and economic crisis.”

In recent months, priests and religious leaders have also been abducted along with lay people. Since 22 May, the Christian community in Aleppo has called for the release of Mgr Gregory Yohanna Ibrahim, a Syriac Orthodox bishop, and Mgr Boulos al-Yazigi, a Greek Orthodox prelate, who were kidnapped near the border with Turkey and are still in the hands of their kidnappers. (UCAN)