Syria: parish priest fr Hanna and 20 Christians abducted

Giacomo Pizzi8 October 2014

On the night of 5 October a number of rebels linked to Al-Nusra Jahbat entered the Convent of St. Joseph in Knayeh, near the Turkish border, and kidnapped the Franciscan parish priest Father Hanna Jallouf and also abducted a number of civilians. The Franciscan sisters who were in the convent have taken refuge in local homes in the village.

This Syrian village is the base not only for the Latin Parish (a shelter and a center for young people) but also for the 4 reception centers established by the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land at the beginning of the conflict, for which there are also now fears for their survival.

The announcement came yesterday (7 October) from the Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem. At the end of the communiqué were the following words: “We are unable to say where Father Hanna and his parishioners are and, at this time, we have no possibility of contact with him or his captors. Let us pray for him and for the other victims of this tragic and senseless war”.

The Custos, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, President of Association pro Terra Sancta, recently traveled to Syria – accompanied by Father Simon Herro, in charge of the St. Paul Region – to see first hand the situation facing the friars and the convents, as the news making its way to Jerusalem was frequently confusing and direct communications were continually disrupted. With several friars there had in fact been no contact for several months due to the lack of electricity.

Supporting the Association pro Terra Sancta means to support the Syrian population and to provide concrete help to all the friars and the religious who are living in Syria. Each contribution is of the utmost importance.

The Association, the nonprofit NGO of the Custody of the Holy Land, is an integral part of the coordination of Catholic humanitarian intervention in these countries and the surrounding region where there are numerous Syrian refugees (Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Cyprus and Egypt).