Christians in Syria Should Refrain From Participating in Syrian Society Given Recent Kidnapping of 12 Nuns in Maaloula, Says Lebanese Patriarch

Cardinal Mar Bechara el-Rahi, the Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon, expressed concern about involving Christians in Syrian events, especially in the wake of the kidnapping of nuns from the St. Takla nunnery in Maaloula and the abduction of bishops Boulos Yazigi and Youhanna Ibrahim in a separate incident.

During a meeting with the president of the Maronite General Council and former minister Wadih el-Khazen, Patriarch Rahi said the failure of the parliament to secure a new electoral law in Lebanon is a stab in the heart to the democratic system they aspire to restore after more than thirty years of fighting.

For his part, el-Khazen said: "Due to the internal situation in Lebanon, we have emphasized to the patriarch the importance of holding the presidential election on time, as President Suleiman has no intention to delay."

He pointed out that they stressed the need for appointing a new government instead of the caretaker government which has been unable to make decisions regarding security and the economy.

Patriarch Rahi highlighted to the ambassador of the International Commission for Human Rights, Dr. Rehab Bitar, the importance of working on the release of the St. Takla nuns and the need for concerted efforts by everyone in order to achieve this as well as the release of the two kidnapped bishops.

Muslim militants stormed the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Takla in Syria on December 2, after they seized the historical Christian town of Maaloula. They forcibly took 12 nuns away.

Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrhaim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Bolous Yazigi were kidnapped on April 22 near the Syrian city of Aleppo after unidentified gunmen stopped their car and killed the driver, there whereabouts are still unknown.

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