25 Desember 2015
The Lord give you His peace!
The solemnity of Christmas accompanies us during these days with various joyous celebations, and for this reason I would like to convey to you some joyful news. Unfortunately this is not the case.
I communicate that on the morning of 23 December we have lost contact with Fr. Dhiya Azziz, parish priest of Yacoubieh (Syria).
Fr. Dhiya was returning from Lattakieh to Yacoubieh, passing through Hama, with his driver. During the journey something must have happened. We do not know what happened. We do not have any news. Nothing. His mobile phone, which initially was switched off, this morning was ringing without any answer. This is a sign that someone has charged the battery. But he is not answering. This makes us presume that he has been kidnapped by somebody, but we do not possess any clue which can help us understand with precision what has happened.
This is the second time that Fr. Dhiya has been kidnapped, if this is what happened. Recently he was in Turkey, in order to meet the members of his family, who are now refugees in Turkey after the entrance of Dash (ISIS) in Karakosh (Iraq), his native town. He was returning to his parish for the Christmas celebrations.
After he was liberated from prison the first time he told us that during the days of his detention he had felt the power of our prayers.
I therefore invite you all to pray intensively, in order to make him feel our closeness to him through our prayers.
We have decided to wait for some days before communicating his disappearance to the press, hoping that we would soon receive good news. You can freely speak about this to anyone, but I ask you to avoid giving any communications to the press for the moment.
In spite of all this sad news, I wish a Happy Christmas to you all.
Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa ofm
Custos of the Holy Land
the Lord give you peace!
We received a confirmation about the situation of father Dhiya Azziz. Now it is certain that he fell into the hands of a group of fanatic jihadists. We hope he is still alive and that he is treated well. The situation is not encouraging.
Those from various parts are working to help us find him, ask us, for the moment, not to publish any additional information, to prevent a worsening of the situation.
We all have to pray and to intercede for father Dhiya. I ask each fraternity, inways that they will considered appropriate, to find moments of common prayer of intercession for fr. Dhiya and for all those who, like him, are prisoners of religious fanatics. If possible, I ask also to encourage groups of friends and other religious institutions to do the same.
May the One who is born in Bethlehem, intercede for him and help us all to be obedient to will of the Father.
With best wishes