05 March 2008

Archbishop's kidnappers raise demands

The kidnappers of Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul, Iraq, have raised their ransom demands, according to AsiaNews.

Deacon Keith Fournier has an excellent special report on the kidnapping and on the suffering of the Chaldean Catholics, the predominant Catholic rite in Iraq and Syria, on Catholic Online. These are the descendants of the original Christians and are Arabs. We tend to think that all Arabs are Muslims. That isn’t true. The majority are but there have been Christian Arabs in the Middle East for the last 2,000 years. Islam began in the seventh cantury after Christ.

Deacon Fournier reports the dying words of Father Ragheed Ganni, the 35-year-old Chaldean Catholic priest murdered on Pentecost Sunday last year along with three of his sub-deacons, Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho, and Gassan Isam Bidawed. the had just finished celebrating Mass in the Church where Archbishop Rahho had just finished leading the people in the Stations of the Cross last Friday. Just before he died, Father Rageed said, 'Without Sunday, without the Eucharist, the Christians in Iraq cannot survive'. AsiaNews is cited as the source of this.

Let us continue to pray for the release of Archbishop Rahho, whose health is poor and who needs medicine.

Pope John Paul in his wonderful Apostolic Exhortation of 25 March 1992, Pastores Dabo Vobis, speaks many times of the priest being 'configured to Christ'. We need to take heart from priests such as Archbishop Rahho and Father Raqeed who have lived this out in their lives and in the case of the latter, in his death.

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