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Pope Francis asks for prayers for Syria

  |   June 2, 2013 at 4:16 PM
VATICAN CITY, June 2 (UPI) -- Pope Francis Sunday asked for prayers for the victims of war, specifically citing the Syrian civil war which has gone on for two years.

"Wars are always madness: All is lost in war, all is to be gained in peace," Vatican Radio quoted the Catholic Church's leader as saying. He asked everyone to pray for those who have fallen in war.

"In deploring all of these, I wish 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," Francis said, adding his request for prayers "for our beloved Syria".

In April, the Syrian government and opposition leaders blamed each other for the abduction of two archbishops traveling outside Aleppo, officials said.

Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi were kidnapped as they were traveling back to Aleppo after doing humanitarian work in southern Turkey, The New York Times reported.

Their driver was killed, Vatican Radio said. Their vehicle was abandoned in the countryside, opposition activists told the Times.

Ibrahim initially was supportive of Syrian President Bashar Assad, telling the country's Christians not to abandon Syria, the Times reported, but he recently turned more critical. In an April 13 interview with the BBC, Ibrahim said as many as a third of the country's Christians had fled the country, and he couldn't blame them due to the "difficult circumstances in terms of security and the threats they face daily."

Yazigi was not known to have made political statements, the Times said.

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