» 03/13/2008, 00.00
The archbishop of Mosul is dead
Bishop of Arbil: "A heavy Cross for our Church, ahead of Easter". The cause of death is still unknown. The pope's expression of sorrow.
Mosul (AsiaNews) - The Chaldean archbishop of Mosul is dead. Archbishop Faraj Rahho was kidnapped last February 29 after the Stations of the Cross. His kidnappers gave word of his death, indicating to the mediators where they could recover the body of the 67-year-old prelate. "It is a heavy Cross for our Church, ahead of Easter", Bishop Rabban of Arbil tells AsiaNews in response to the news. Leaders of the Chaldean Church, including Bishop Shlemon Warduni, brought the body to the hospital in Mosul to ascertain the causes, still unknown, of the archbishop's death. The funeral will be held tomorrow in the nearby city of Karamles. Archbishop Rahho will be buried near Fr Ragheed, his priest and secretary killed by a terrorist brigade on June 3, 2007, while leaving the church after celebrating Mass.
The archbishop had been very sick. He had suffered a heart attack a few years ago, and since then he had needed to take medication every day. The difficult negotiations for his release carried forward over the past 14 days of his kidnapping had immediately raised concern because of the total absence of direct contact with the hostage. The conditions posed by the kidnappers - sources in Mosul tell AsiaNews - in addition to an outrageous ransom on the order of millions of dollars, had also included the provision of weapons and the liberation of Arab prisoners held in Kurdish prisons.
The news of Archbishop Rahho's death "profoundly wounds and saddens" the pope, says the director of the Vatican press office, Fr Federico Lombardi. Benedict XVI hopes that "this tragic event may renew once again and with greater force the efforts of all, and in particular of the international community, for the pacification of this greatly tormented country". Three times in recent days, the pope had launched an appeal for the liberation of the bishop. Numerous Muslim leaders had also spoken out for the prelate's release, both Sunnis and Shiites, in Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan, and also condemned the action as "contrary to Islam".
The blood tribute of the diocese of Mosul
With the killing of Archbishop Rahho, the Sunni stronghold confirms its place as the most dangerous area for the Christian community. According to an autopsy, the bishop has been dead for five days. In 2007 alone, 47 Christians were killed in Iraq.
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Telegram from Benedict XVI to the Chaldean patriarchate: "decisive condemnation" of the killing of a "zealous pastor". A brief profile of the archbishop of Mosul.
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Pope: enough with the massacres, enough with the violence, enough with hatred in Iraq!
The anguished cry of Benedict XVI after the death of Paulos Faraj Rahho, Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, following his kidnapping. Solidarity with the Iraqi people, marked by five years of war that have destroyed civil and social life.
Silence must not descend on Archbishop of Mosul
The appeal was launched by the Archbishop of Kirkuk, 12 days on from Msgr. Rahoo’s abduction. To the Bishops and Christians of the world: “do not remain indifferent to this suffering, do not leave us alone to face this trial”. Amid increased fears, today in Kirkuk 15 Muslim leaders ask once again that the prelate be released.
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A telephone call is expected this evening, in which the mediators will demand to "hear the voice" of Archbishop Rahho. Concern is increasing, and a U.S. commander advances the theory that terrorism may be behind the kidnapping. Masses and prayers in Rome and Damascus for the "three martyrs" and for the safety of the prelate.
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