Manchester's Iraqi and Syrian community have echoed the call of Muslim community leaders in Syria, who have come out and condemned the kidnapping of Catholic priest Father Jacques Mourad and are seeking to establish contact with his abductors.
Fr Mourad was snatched by armed men on 21st May near the village of Al Qaryatayn, where he lived in the monastery of St Elias. He was well known and liked for his friendship and work in the local community, in an area where a large majority are Sunni Muslims.
A source has said: "the timeliness coincide with the fall of Palmyra, a nearby town, and the kidnapping of Fr Mourad, which occurred soon after".
The priest, from the same monastic community as Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, (who was kidnapped in 2013) animated the local Syrian Catholic parish, with about 300 faithful, promoted many initiatives at an ecumenical and inter-religious level, and built good relations between all the different ethnic and religious groups.
"Father Jacques lived a constant commitment to dialogue, prayer, reconciliation. He promoted solidarity among families of different religions, he was an example of humanitarian service without religious or ethnic labels.
His life was an example to defuse sectarianism",. The hopes for his release "come only from the local community, the Islamic authorities and from people of good will".
Join the online vigil for Father Jaques Mourad on https://www.facebook.com/PrayingForFatherMourad & for Twitter members use the Hashtag #PrayingForFatherMourad