11/29/2006, 00.00
IRAQ
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Kidnapped priest released in Baghdad

This was confirmed by Mgr Warduni, Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad: "Fr Doglas is fine, but Iraq still needs prayers." He made an appeal for Christmas.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Fr Doglas Yousef Al Bazi, the Chaldean parish priest of St Elias in Baghdad, is safe and sound, at home once again. He was released last night after being kidnapped for nine days. The news, confirmed by local Church sources, was welcomed with rejoicing by the entire Iraqi Christian community at home and abroad, although the situation in Baghdad and the rest of the country continues to be "difficult".

The Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad, Mgr Shleman Warduni, told AsiaNews that the released priest is "fine now, but sorely tried, especially psychologically... Fr Doglas thanks God for his salvation and has decided to resume a normal life."

Everyone suspected kidnapping when the young priest disappeared. His abduction came only a month after that of Fr Paul Iskandar, a Syro-Orthodox priest of Mosul who was found murdered and mutilated two days after he disappeared on 11 November.

Mgr Warduni had nothing to add about the case of Fr Doglas. However he launched an appeal to the world in view of Christmas: "We ask everyone to support Iraqi Christians in prayer, especially as Holy Christmas draws near. Pray for our children, who will not receive toys, for our young girls, who cannot dress up and for our elderly people, who cannot enjoy the deserved serenity that should come with old age." He added: "Only prayer gives us the strength to press ahead and to resist in this difficult situation."

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