05/22/2007, 00.00
IRAQ

Free, but “deeply marked” the Chaldean priest kidnapped in Baghdad

Fr. Nawzat P. Hanna was released yesterday after three days in captivity. Currently he is in safe keeping in the capital, but he bares marks of having been beaten. Baghdad’s auxiliary bishop: “Let u spray that these episodes do not happen again and that our priest finds the courage to remain in Iraq, to serve his Church”.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) –Chaledean priest Nawzat P. Hanna  freed yesterday evening in Baghdad after three days of captivity carries the signs of having been beaten. Msgr Shlemon Warduni, auxiliary bishop of the capital’s Chaldean Catholic Church himself went to fetch the priest “in a certain part of the city” as he told AsiaNews today. His release took place at around 9.30 in the evening.  “When he saw me – tells the prelate – Fr. Nawzat strongly embraced me, he was in tears and he was deeply tried; he then thanked all of those who had prayed for him in these days, The Virgin and the saint of his parish, Mar Pithion”.

 

The priest has recovered somewhat, “he has calmed” and he is in Baghdad. “Let us hope that he finds the courage to continue serving the Church in Iraq – augurs msgr. Warduni – his family have already moved abroad but he instead chose to remain with his parishioners”. In the past other priests kidnapped in the capital were subsequently transferred to Northern Iraq or abroad because of the high security risk.

 

Parish priest of the Mar Pithion Church, in the Baladiyat quarter of the capital, Fr Nawzat was leaving the home of a sick parishioner May 19th when he was stopped by a group of people who “had been waiting for him”.  The abductors immediately contacted the Patriarchate demanding a “very high” ransom for his release.

 

“Let us pray – concluded the bishop – that events such as these do not happen again”.

 

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