Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "An act of inhuman violence that offends the dignity of the human person and seriously harms the cause of fraternal coexistence among the beloved Iraqi people". This is how the pope is expressing his "most decisive condemnation" of the killing of the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, Faraj Rahho, the news of which arrived today. In a telegram addressed to Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, the patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Benedict XVI assures him of his "special closeness" and "fervent prayers for the repose of the zealous pastor kidnapped at the end of the celebration of the Via Crucis". "I invoke the Lord's mercy", the message continues, "so that this tragic event may serve to build a future of peace in the tormented land of Iraq".
Who Archbishop Rahho was
Because of the conflict in Mosul, only a third of the area's Christians have remained, Archbishop Rahho denounced in November. For his little flock, the prelate still represented a "hope". The faithful recount to AsiaNews that the bishop had always said "that he wanted to remain in Iraq until the end, even if this meant death". His presence was an act of "resistance against terrorism and violence". Born in 1941, Faraj Rahho was a seminarian at the patriarchal seminary of Saint Simon. He then became the pastor of the church of Mar Elia. After a brief period of studies in Rome, he returned to Iraq. There, in the 1980's, he became the leader of the newly founded parish of St Paul in Mosul, until he was appointed as an archbishop in 2001. In 1989, he founded the Fraternity of Charity and Joy, with the aim of assisting sick people and guaranteeing them love and a dignified life. He also worked hard on behalf of young people. In the 1990's, when Iraq was under embargo, he instituted the "Youth Week", a successful initiative that later became a pastoral outreach for the entire diocese.