Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Iraqi Christians should follow the example of Mgr Paulos Rahho “and persevere in the commitment to building a peaceful and understanding society on a path towards progress and peace” and create together with Muslims co-existence that is based on “brotherhood and respect.” The slain bishop of Mosul was still in Benedict XVI’s mind as he celebrated Mass in his memory in the ‘Redemptoris Mater’ Chapel in Rome.
If in yesterday’s Angelus the Pope told Iraqis, “Enough with the massacres; enough with the violence; enough with hatred in Iraq;” today his thoughts turned to the much-tried Chaldean community and the dead bishop’s teachings.
“The liturgical context in which we find ourselves is the most eloquent possible,” he said. “These are days in which we re-live the last moments in Jesus’ earthly life: tragic hours, full of love and fear, especially in the disciples’ soul; hours in which truth and lies were clearly demarcated, between Christ’s meekness and rectitude and his enemies’ violence and deception.”
Turning his mind on purpose to the slain bishop, he said: “I am thinking about the Sacred Chrism that anointed Monsignor Rahho’s forehead when he was baptised and christened, that anointed his hands the day of his priestly ordination, and then his head and hands when he was consecrated bishop. But I am also thinking about the many anointments of filial love, spiritual friendship, and devotion by his faithful upon his person, which accompanied him in the terrible hours of his abduction and painful captivity, when perhaps he was hurt, till his agony and death, till the shameful burial place in which his mortal remains were eventually found. These sacramental and spiritual anointments were however tokens of resurrection, of the true and full life our Lord Jesus came to give us!”
“Monsignor Rahho took his cross and followed his lord Jesus,” said the Holy Father. “Thus he contributed to bringing lawfulness to his martyred country and the world, bearing witness to the truth. He was a man of peace and dialogue. I knew he was particularly involved with the poor and the disabled. In order to provide the latter with physical and psychological assistance he founded a special associated called Farah wa Mahabba (Joy and Charity), whose task was to enhance their status whilst supporting their families. From him many learnt not to hide away such members but rather see Christ in them. May his example sustain all Iraqis of good will, Christians and Muslims, in building peaceful co-existence based on human brotherhood and mutual respect.”
“These days,” added the Pope, “in deep union with the Chaldean community in Iraq and around the world we weep for his death and the inhuman way he ended his earthly life. But today in this Eucharist which we offer for his consecrated soul, we want to thank God for all the good he has accomplished in him and through him. And at the same time we wish to hope that from Heaven he will intercede with the Lord to obtain for his much tried faithful on this the courage to continue working for a better future.”
Benedict XVI concluded saying that as “beloved Bishop Paulos unreservedly invested himself for his people, so may his fellow Christians persevere in the commitment to build a peaceful and understanding society on the path towards progress and pace.”