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    » 10/15/2007, 00.00

    IRAQ

    Mosul: Syro-Catholic priests still in the hands of their captors



    Negotiations are underway to free priests abducted on Saturday. Pope appealed for their release yesterday. Some Iraqi Christians criticise Baghdad’s ‘indifference’ towards the plight of kidnapped Iraqi clergymen.

    Ankawa (AsiaNews) – The two Syro-Catholic priests, who were abducted in Mosul on Saturday and whose release Pope Benedict XVI called for in yesterday’s Angelus, are still in the hands of their captors, Christian website www.Ankawa.com reported this morning. On its Arabic page, it criticises the central government which “continues to ignore the problem of Iraqi clergymen” and fails “to investigate and arrest the culprits.”

    Sources close to the nunciature told AsiaNews that negotiations are underway and that the Syro-Catholic bishop of Mosul, Mgr Basile George Casmoussa, is working day and night for the release of the two priests. According to some rumours talks are slow because the captors are asking a king’s ransom for letting them go.

    Fr Mazen Ishoa, 35, and Fr Pius Afas, 60, were kidnapped by unknown people on their way to celebrate mass at Our Lady of Fatima Parish Church in the al-Faisaliya neighbourhood.

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    See also

    17/10/2007 IRAQ
    Ultimatum for two priests abducted in Mosul, 72 hours to pay the ransom
    Captors reiterate their demand to Syro-Catholic archbishop, who says the two priests are doing well. So far though, no direct contact with Fathers Ishoa and Afas.

    18/10/2007 IRAQ
    Abducted priests in Mosul, bishop slams government indifference
    Mgr Casmoussa expresses his views on Ankawa.com, an Arabic-language website. Since the two clergymen went missing, no politician has lifted a finger for them. The prelate appeals for prayer and peace.

    16/10/2007 IRAQ
    Angst over two missing priests in Mosul, captors suspend contacts
    Captors have ceased all contacts after the Church said it could not pay the ransom demanded for Fathers Ishoa and Afas. Christians are praying but in Baghdad threats continue. On the border, the Turkish army strikes at a Christian village in Kurdistan.

    14/10/2007 IRAQ
    Two priests kidnapped in Mosul while travelling to say mass
    Still no claim of responsibility for the kidnapping of Pius Affas and Mazen Ishoa, for whom Benedict XVI launched an appeal today.

    18/04/2008 IRAQ
    Love for our “Muslim brothers and for Iraq” in Mgr Rahho’s Will
    The Will of the Chaldean archbishop slain by Islamic terrorists last month is published. It includes no material bequests but a strong message upon which to build peace and love among religious communities. His notion of death is one of openness, of “giving oneself to a new and infinite God”.



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    The first meeting in centuries between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow took place in a relaxed and fraternal atmosphere. Two hours of private talks were followed by the signing of a Joint Declaration. As he thanked Raul Castro, the pope said, "If things continue like this, Cuba will be the capital of unity." Both leaders are committed to defending Christians around the world and support "the foundations of morality, the family and the person".


    VATICAN – CUBA – ORTHODOX
    Francis and Kirill: Orthodox and Catholics united vis-à-vis persecuted Christians and the secularised West



    In the Joint Declaration signed in Havana, the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow emphasise the world’s evils and the need for Christians to bear witness together. Both stand for the natural marriage of a man and a woman, the right to life, and the need for inter-faith dialogue. Both are saddened by the scandal of division, and jointly appeal for an end to religious persecution, for peace in Ukraine and for unity based on "tangible gestures." The full text of the Declaration follows.


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