Monk Kidnapped By Islamists Elected Bishop

Wednesday, January 11, 2023 | Tag Cloud Tags: , ,

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

DAMASCUS (Worthy News) – A Syriac Catholic monk and priest who was kidnapped in Syria by militants of the Islamic State (IS) group has been elected Archbishop of Homs, the Vatican confirmed Tuesday.

Jacques Mourad, held hostage by IS for five months in 2015, is seen as an advocate for “inter-religious dialogue” amid mounting pressure on Christians in the Middle East, representatives said.

Pope Francis already approved the choice of Mourad as bishop. Mourad was abducted on May 21, 2015, while living in the Mar Elian monastery in Qaryatayn, Syria, and held captive for five months, his church said.

Born 53 years ago in the Syrian city of Aleppo, he entered the monastic community of Deir Mar Musa Al-Abashi, of which he is a co-founder, after seminary studies in Charfet, Lebanon. He studied Theology and received a Licentiate in Liturgy, the Vatican said.

Mourad made his vows in the monastery in July 1993 before being ordained a priest in August of that year. “From 2000 to 2015, he was Prior of the Mar Elian Monastery and parish priest of the parish of Qaryatayn,” Vatican News service reported.

After the kidnapping, he lived in Mar Elian’s sister monasteries of Cori, Italy, and Sulaymanyah, Iraq, church records show.

Following his return to wartorn Syria in 2020, he became deputy superior and bursar of the Mar Elian community. As bishop, he will oversee a Christian community who have faced persecution or other security challenges in Syria. Christians in other Middle East nations also face growing Islamic extremism, rights groups say.

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