According to the Catholic Herald, Patriarch Gregorios III, head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church told Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity, that the nuns were released yesterday and appear to be unharmed.
“I think they were not treated too badly as it is not in the interest of the kidnappers to do this,” Gregorios said, and called their release “a sign of hope in this time of crisis.”
The sisters trial began in early December, 2013, when they were seized from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St Thecla in the historic town late last year. The kidnappings occurred after a battle involving the jihadist al-Nusra Front which left 12 people dead, including three who died after refusing to renounce their Christian beliefs.
The sisters release was part of a deal in which the government agreed to free women prisoners.
However, the suffering is far from over for Christians in the embattled country.
” . . . Here in Syria, where St Paul found his faith, many churches stand empty, targets for bombardment and desecration,” wrote Bishop Antoine Audo, the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo in the UK’s Daily Telegraph this past weekend. “Aleppo, where I have been bishop for 25 years, is devastated. We have become accustomed to the daily dose of death and destruction, but living in such uncertainty and fear exhausts the body and the mind,”
He continued: “Until the war began, Syria was one of the last remaining strongholds for Christianity in the Middle East. We have 45 churches in Aleppo. But now our faith is under mortal threat, in danger of being driven into extinction, the same pattern we have seen in neighboring Iraq. . . .
“Syrian Christians may face great peril, but we have a crucial role to play in restoring peace. We have no interest in power, no stake in the spoils of this war, no objective but to rebuild our society.”
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