03/11/2008, 00.00
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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.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – The Iraqi Church is “suffering profoundly” from the “darkness and silence” which reign over the kidnap of Mosul’s Chaldean Archbishop, as anxiety and concern increase among the faithful and their pastors.  A fresh appeal has been launched today by the Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, Msgr. Louis Sako, pleading with the West not to fall into the trap of indifference in the face of violence in Iraq, or accept it as “normal”, but to once again raise its voice against the injustices which afflict the nation and its people.

12 days on from bishop Rahoo’s abduction there is still news on his conditions.  The kidnappers – whose identity remains unclear- have placed “difficult conditions” on his release and continue to deny mediators direct contact with the hostage. Added to this are increasing concerns over the state of the prelate’s health, given that he is gravely ill and is in need of daily treatment.  The fact that the city, a Sunni stronghold, is more that 90% under terrorist control is not facilitating search operations being carried out by the Iraqi government.

In an appeal sent to AsiaNews, Msgr. Sako urges that “that once again silence will not shroud the pain of the Iraqi people, which is looked upon as something normal and ordinary”. “In a situation as critical as this – he says appealing to the West and the world’s bishops Conferences  - one cannot remain indifferent to one’s Christians brothers; they are asking us where is the charity, love and compassion”.  The prelate clearly indicates how one can contribute to helping Iraq, even from afar: “Pray for us, share our sufferance, worries, hope and help us concretely to remain in our land and denounce our injuries.  A sign, a presence, or even a gesture will help us witness our faith and universal brotherhood”.

 “The support of the world’s bishops, religious and faithful– he adds – will give us the impulse to continue to hope in peace and inter-religious coexistence”.  Msgr. Sako concludes with thanks “all of those who have shown there support and solidarity in a moment in which we feel abandoned and alone in our deep suffering and latest trial”.

Added to the appeals by the Pope, numerous Muslim leaders in the region have condemned the abduction. Today in the Archbishop’s residence in Kirkuk 15 Muslim religious leaders will come to launch a fresh appeal for the release of Msgr. Rahoo. Tomorrow Iraqi Chaldeans both in Iraq, and abroad will unite in prayer for the safe return of the bishop: masses will be offered for him in communities throughout the world.


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