11/13/2009, 00.00
IRAQ
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Mosul celebrating the appointment of new archbishop after the death of Mgr Rahho

Benedict XVI approves the election of Rev Emil Shimoun Nona by the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Church. The diocese had no leader since March 2008 when Mgr Rahho was abducted and murdered. Catholics in Mosul are full of “joy and renewed hope.”
Mosul (AsiaNews) – The Diocese of Mosul in northern Iraq is celebrating the appointment of Rev Emil Shimoun Nona as its new archbishop. Pope Benedict XVI today approved his canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Church. The clergyman belongs to the eparchial clergy of Alqosh and has been called to lead the diocese left vacant in March 2008 by the abduction and subsequent murder of Mgr Paul Faraj Rahho. Mosul Catholics welcomed his appointment with “joy and renewed hope.”

Rev Emil Shimoun Nona was born in Alqosh on 1 November 1967. In 1985, he entered the Chaldean Patriarchal Seminary and was ordained as a priest on 11 January 1991 in Baghdad. From 1993 to 1997, he was parish vicar in Alqosh, then parish priest until 2000, when he went to study at Pontifical Lateran University.

He graduated in theology in 2005 and then came home to perform his pastoral ministry as parish priest in Alqosh. Today, he is protosyncellus in the Archeparchy of Alqosh and teaches anthropology at Babel College. He speaks, Arabic, Italian and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic and knows English.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Catholic sources in Mosul said that the faithful were happy about the new archbishop, who is a source of “renewed hope for the local diocese.”

“We were waiting, anxious about the appointment. We hope he starts playing his role as soon as possible, and that he puts order in the diocese and become an authoritative voice that can get Christian rights respected.”  

Since 13 March 2008, the Archdiocese of Mosul has been without a pastor, following the death of Mgr Rahho in captivity. “Since then many things have changed,” the source told AsiaNews. “The number of faithful has dropped because many have fled.”

“Under Saddam, the largest parish in the diocese had more members that the entire diocese does today.”

The source slams the atmosphere of “fear and in security” that is felt today in Mosul and the campaign of persecution against local minorities, a situation recently confirmed by Human Rights Watch.

“Christians,” he said, “are caught up in a political battle full of episodes of violence. Those who are left and the new pastor now have the task of rebuilding the Church and the life of the faithful.” (DS)

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