Iraq: new Archbishop of Mosul appointed

bombed church, Mosul

bombed church, Mosul

The Diocese of Mosul in northern Iraq is celebrating the long-awaited appointment of Rev Emil Shimoun Nona as its new archbishop. Pope Benedict XVI yesterday approved his canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Church. Rev Nona belongs to the eparchial clergy of Alqosh.  He succeeds Mgr Paul Faraj Rahho who was abducted and murdered in March 2008.

Rev Emil Shimoun Nona was born in Alqosh on 1 November 1967. In 1985, he entered the Chaldean Patriarchal Seminary and was ordained as a priest on 11 January 1991 in Baghdad. From 1993 to 1997, he was parish vicar in Alqosh, then parish priest until 2000, when he went to study at Pontifical Lateran University.

He graduated in theology in 2005 and then returned to Iraq to serve as parish priest in Alqosh. Today, he is protosyncellus in the Archeparchy of Alqosh and teaches anthropology at Babel College. He speaks, Arabic, Italian, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic and English.

AsiaNews reports that Catholics in Mosul are  happy about the new archbishop, who is a source of “renewed hope for the local diocese.”

A local church spokesman said: “We were waiting, anxious about the appointment. We hope he starts playing his role as soon as possible, and that he puts order in the diocese and become an authoritative voice that can get Christian rights respected.” 

Since the murder of Archbishop Rahho the Archdiocese of Mosul has been without a pastor. The spokesman said: “Since then many things have changed. The number of faithful has dropped because many have fled.”

“Under Saddam, the largest parish in the diocese had more members that the entire diocese does today.”

Describing an atmosphere of “fear and in security” in   which Christians live in  daily fear of kidnappings and attacks, he said the remaining Christians and their new pastor "now have the task of rebuilding the Church and the life of the faithful.”

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