altMiddle Eastern Christian leaders have appealed to the Pope to help find two bishops who were kidnapped in Syria last year.

Pope Francis met leaders of the Eastern churches in Rome this week, in a meeting organised by the Focolare movement. There Theophilos Kuriakose, metropolitan of the Syriac-Orthodox Church of Antioch, asked the Holy Father to intervene during his visit to Turkey this month.

Aleppo’s Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazig were kidnapped in April last year, and are believed to be held by anti-Syrian government forces.

At the meeting Pope Francis held the metropolitan’s hand and, according to the latter, he said “I am deeply united with you, and I pray for these two bishops, and I will do my level best for their release and for the suffering people in the Middle East.”

The metropolitan said the Pope’s words were “very profound”, and came “from his heart’

The churchmen also said that ISIS were being supported by other groups: “ISIS is not a sudden, but the preparations are long back,” he said “ISIS is backed by many groups around there”.

Among the countries accused of funding ISIS in their struggle against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria are Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.