Abducted Chaldean archbishop found dead in Iraq

Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, kidnapped in Iraq last month, was found dead on March 13, his body half-buried in an empty lot in the northern city of Mosul. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blamed Rahho’s death on al-Qaeda and said his Shi’ite-led government was committed to protecting Christians, who make up about 3% of Iraq’s population. “The perpetrators of this horrible crime will not run from the hand of justice,” Maliki said. Pope Benedict, who had made several appeals for Rahho’s freedom, called his death “an act of inhuman violence that offends the dignity of the human being” in a letter to Iraqi church leaders. (Reuters, March 13)

See our last posts on Iraq and the sectarian cleansing.

  1. Assyrian Orthodox priest assassinated in Iraq
    From Alsumaria Iraqi Satellite TV Network, April 6:

    Tens of citizens participated in the funeral service of Father Youssef Adel, the parish priest of Orthodox Assyrian St Peter and Paul Church amidst preventive measures imposed by security forces. Father Adel was assassinated on Saturday in Sinaa Street in Karrada. Condemnations to the assassination poured in. Pope Benedict XVI sent a condolence letter to Assyrian parish expressing his deep sorrow over the assassination of Father Adel.

    More details from Catholic World News, April 7:

    Iraqi Christians joined in mourning after a Syrian Orthodox priest was murdered in Baghdad on April 5.

    Father Yusef Adel was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen in the Iraqi capital. The killing occurred less than 3 weeks after Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Faraj Raho was found dead, after having been kidnapped from outside his cathedral in Mosul.

    Syrian Orthodox Bishop Matti Shaba Matoka presided at the funeral for Father Adel, with Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly and the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Francis Chulikatt, representing the city’s Catholic leadership…

    The campaign of violence and intimidation against Christians has taken an enormous toll. The number of Christians living in Iraq today is estimated at under 500,000—roughly half what it was before the start of the war in 2003.