Peace award granted to murdered Iraqi Archbishop

The late Archbishop Paulos Fsaraj Raho of Mosul, Iraq received posthumously the 2009 Path of Peace Award on 9 June. The announcement was made in New York by Archbishop Celestine Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Nations and president of the path of peace foundation, an agency established  to support the work of the Holy See mission to the United Nations.

The award  was received by Bishop Ibrahih Ibrahim representing Patriarch Emmanuel III Dely. He said: "we thanked Archbishop Celestine Migliore for choosing the martyred Archbishop for the award,this decision means that the world have not forgotten the Christians of Iraq and that they will not allow others to play with their destiny".

Paulos Faraj Raho was born in 1942 in Mosul, a city with one of the largest and oldest Christian populations in Iraq. In 1954 he entered St Peter’s seminary in Baghdad. He was ordained in 1965 and was appointed priest to St Isaiah’s Church in Mosul. In 1976 he completed his religious education in Rome. He established the church of the Sacred Heart in Tel Keppe (20 km north of Mosul) and also opened an orphanage for disabled children.

In 2001 Pope John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Mosul. Later in the same year he was elevated to the post of Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul with responsibility for 10 parishes with a total congregation of 20,000 Catholics.

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent hardship endured by the Iraqi Christians he continued to lead worship throughout the war. He encouraged Christians to remain in Mosul and he was a strong advocate of tolerance towards all factions.
As Iraq continued to lose all semblance of order, on 29 February 2008 Raho was kidnapped outside his church. The gang killed his driver and two of his bodyguards.

On March 13th 2008 the Archbishop’s body was found in a shallow grave near Mosul. Pope Benedict XVI stated the murder was “an act of inhuman violence that affects the dignity of human being”. Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Dely  wept during his funeral service. He urged Christians not to seek revenge.

Share this story