04/26/2005, 00.00
IRAQ - VATICAN
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In the face and words of the Pope the humility of Christ, says Bishop of Mosul

Hope, joy and prayers among Christians in Iraq follow the election of Benedict XVI. We are waiting for him to visit our country; he will be the Pope of unity, they say.

Mosul (AsiaNews) – The Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul was struck especially by the reflection of Christ's humility in the face of the new Pontiff. He was not alone in welcoming with "enthusiasm and joy" the election of Benedict XVI to the throne of Peter. Like him Christians in his diocese and in Iraq see in the Pope the "right man" to renew the Christian faith, beginning in the West, and move their country and the whole world towards peace.

Everyone sees in his words and deeds signs of the "presence of the Holy Spirit".

AsiaNews has gathered different views about this event from the city of Mosul, a city in northern Iraq marked by war and violence against the Christian minority.

Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho: "Looking at his smiling face on TV and hearing his words, I was touched by his Christ-like humility. This gives me hope that he will give the Church new vigour."

"Christians in Iraq are hoping that he will continue on the path set by his predecessor, John Paul II."

"Our beloved country is praying and hoping for the Pontiff's commitment to establishing peace in Iraq."

Fr Youhanna Issa, priest at Mosul's Virgin Mary's parish church said that "he will be the Pope of unity. Today, the ecumenical dialogue is going through a cold winter, but Benedict XVI might experience some warmth."

"I am hoping that the distance with the Orthodox Churches, especially that of Russia, might be reduced."

"As for inter-faith dialogue, I am hopeful the Pope will work for the common respect of human rights. He has already shown his intention to meet others as John Paul II did, and thus follow in the footsteps of Jesus."

Imad Haseeb, founder of the community of Charity and Joy, an organisation that looks after the disabled in Iraq, said: "I am so happy. I hope he will encourage the youth to help the needy around the world, teaching that it is through them that we can see the face of Christ".

For Fadi Lobbo, a pharmacist, "there is no doubt in my mind that the Pope is a charismatic man. Divine Providence is behind his election. Christianity, first in Western Europe, then in the whole world, needs to renew itself, and he is the man who is going to implement the will of the Holy Spirit."

Fr Ragheed Ganni, priest at the Holy Spirit parish church and teacher of ecumenical ecclesiology, said: "I pray that the Lord gives Pope Benedict XVI a long life. I believe that he is the right man to overcome the obstacles faced by ecumenical dialogue today."

"Europe needs him to rediscover its Christian heritage, a process that can start during this summer's World Youth Day in Germany."

"I was struck when he repeated John Paul II's words 'Be not afraid', a call to believers to unite their hearts with that of Jesus"

"I join my voice to those of Iraqi Christians in saying that we hope he will visit our beloved country."
A solemn mass to honour the election of Benedict XVI will be held on April 29 at Mosul's St George's Monastery. The service will be co-celebrated by Archbishop Rahho and Mosul's Syrian Catholic Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa.

 

(In the photo: Our Lady of the Tigris, symbol of Mosul Christians, which was not touched by the attack that destroyed the Bishop's residence on December 7, 2004. 

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