The Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, responded quickly to reports that two Orthodox priests, Petr Makarov and Petr Sukhonosov, had been taken hostage on the territory of Ingushetia.
News of the abductions was received at OCA headquarters here in a communique issued on March 29, 1999 by His Holiness, Patriarch ALEKSY II of Moscow and All Russia through the Communications Service of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, dated March 29, 1999. The communique, which related how Father Sukhonosov had been taken hostage in the midst of a liturgical service he was celebrating, warns that the “barbarian act, which unfortunately is not the first on the territory of the Caucasus, could cause extreme destabilization of inter-religious and inter-ethnic relations” in the war torn region.
“On behalf of the hierarchs, clergy, monastics and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, please know that we are offering up fervent prayers for their safe and quick release,” Metropolitan THEODOSIUS wrote in a personal letter of support to Patriarch Aleksy.
“These are difficult times now with the continuing difficulties in the Caucasuses. We are also deeply saddened and concerned about the escalating conflict in Serbia and Bosnia. May the Prince of Peace, Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, save us and protect us in His rich mercy.”
The abductions of Fathers Makarov and Sukhonosov are not the first to occur in the region, which includes the republics of Chechnya and Ingushetia. It was in the same region that two Russian nationals employed by International Orthodox Christian Charities, Dimitri Petrov and Dimitri Penkovsky, had also been taken hostage in 1998. Both were eventually released after months of captivity.
With headquarters in Syosset, New York, the Orthodox Church in America numbers over 600 parishes, missions, monasteries, seminaries and institutions throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.