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Sunday, October 23, 2016
Iraq: concerns grow for safety of kidnapped archbishop
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¬†Two Christians were killed, and one was wounded, when the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Raho was kidnapped in Iraq on Friday afternoon. Archbishop Raho was abducted in the eastern part of Mosul. He had just celebrated the rite of Via Cruis and was on his way back to the Holy Spirit Cathedral when his car was attacked. His driver, Faris, and one of his guards, Rami, were killed. The other guard, Samir, was wounded and was in a very critical condition at the time of this posting. It is not known who has kidnapped 67-year-old archbishop, who is believed to be in poor health and requiring daily medication. There have been other kidnappings and violent acts against Christians and church property in Mosul. In November 2006 a Syrian Orthodox priest who had been kidnapped was brutally murdered, on 3 June 2007 a priest and two deacons were killed as they left a church and on 17 January 2008 Al-Tahira Chaldean Church was bombed for the second time. Many Christian families have moved to either nearby areas that are under the control of the Kurdish Security Forces or to neighbouring countries. It is common in kidnap cases in Iraq for a ransom to be demanded. If the kidnappers are motivated by financial gain then the victim is usually released after a ransom has been paid. However, if the kidnappers are religiously motivated then the victim is usually killed even if a ransom is paid. On hearing the news, Pope Benedict appealed for the urgent release of Archbishop Paulos. A Vatican statement said: "Distressed by this latest execrable act, which deeply wounds the entire Church in the country and in particular the Chaldean Church, the Pope feels close to the Patriarch Card. Emmanuel III Delly and all of the Christian community, which has been severely tested, as well as the families of the victims. The Pontiff invites the Universal Church to unite in fervent prayer so that reason and humanity may prevail in the minds of the authors of this attack, and that Msgr. Raho is restored to the care of his flock as soon as possible. He also renews his hope that the Iraqi people may find the path to reconciliation and peace"/ A spokesperson for the charity Iraqi Christians in Need (ICIN), Dr Suha Rassam said: 'The kidnapping of Archbishop Rahho and the murder of his companions is tragic. We are very concerned for his safety and are praying for him. Mosul has become very dangerous place for Christians. "This terrible incident is proof, if any were needed, of the dire situation Iraq's Christians find themselves in. Many are living in fear and terror, wondering if they will be the next victims of the violence.' Bishop Crispian Hollis, chairman of the Department for International Affairs said: "I was very distressed to hear of the kidnapping of Archbishop Rahho and I join with all his people ≠ and with the whole Church ≠ in praying for his swift and safe release. This is another severe blow for the already embattled Christian community in Iraq. As well as praying for the Archbishop and his people, I pray also for those killed who were with him and for their grieving families." Source: MEC/VIS/Diocese of Portsmouth/ICIN
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