Skip to comments.SPECIAL REPORT: Catholic Archbishop Kidnapped by Armed Extremists in Iraq
Posted on 03/01/2008 7:19:25 AM PST by tcg
The assault against Catholics in Iraq has continued, and sadly, is escalating....We call on President Bush and the current American administration to do everything within their power to secure the release of Archbishop Rahho.
(Excerpt) Read more at catholic.org ...
He is known to be a holy man, whose devotion to the Lord and his beloved Chaldean Catholic faith is matched only by his dedication to the faithful who are suffering increasing persecution in Iraq.
Chaldean (also referred to as Assyrian) Catholics are the majority Christian representation in Iraq. Most estimate their numbers to be around 550,000 strong. They have also become the focus of a growing wave of anti-Christian violence in that war ravaged country, which is their homeland.
These deeply devout Eastern Catholic Christians are also living in the United Sates and elsewhere throughout the world. Their largest communities in America are in Detroit, Detroit, Michigan and El Cajon, California.
In fact, their numbers are growing and the vibrancy of their catholic faith is a model to many Catholics right when the Pew Foundation reports of the results of lukewarm Christianity in declining Church membership and vocations.
Just this month in California, Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo, announced at St. Peter Cathedral in California, that he intends to open a Diocesan Seminary to train the growing number of young men who are presenting themselves for discernment for a priestly vocation.
Perhaps the proudest day in the recent difficult history of Chaldean Catholics throughout the world was November 24, 2007. On that day, Patriarch, Mar Emmanuel III Delly, was made a Cardinal at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.
The consistory installed 22 other Bishops from around the world as Cardinals. However, it marked the first time in history that a Chaldean Patriarch was elevated to that office. The action was one more in a series of signs since his elevation to the Chair of Peter, of Pope Benedicts particular pastoral solicitude and high regard for this part of the global Catholic Church.
Chaldean Catholics, including those in the United States, are the proud descendents of the ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia, what is called Iraq today. They are Catholics who, like millions of other Eastern Catholic Christians, are in full communion with the Chair of Peter, the Papacy. However, they retain their beautiful Liturgical and cultural identity in the midst of the legitimate diversity, within the bounds of orthodoxy and orthopraxy which is Catholic Christianity.
While some Catholics in America are falling into serious theological error, as was evidenced by the recent need for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith to put a stop to the heretical practice of changing the ancient Baptismal formula, Chaldean Catholics cherish the faith ever ancient and ever new.
In fact, they are dying for it.
They also have a proud heritage which they keep alive. For example, they speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus Christ. Their Liturgy maintains the practices and rubrics which connect them with that rich and proud heritage.
The Chaldean Catholic Church has been in union with Rome since the 16th century, when some of the bishops of the Ancient Assyrian Church of the East chose to come back into full communion with Rome by again acknowledging the primacy of the Pope among Bishops.
Now Cardinal Delly became the Chaldean Patriarch of the Baghdad, Iraq-based Chaldean Catholic Church when he was elected by a synod of Chaldean bishops who met in Rome in Rome in December 2003.
In spite of the escalating anti-Catholic violence in their Nation, the Cardinal chose to stay in Baghdad in order to care for the faithful. He told his brother Bishop Ibrahim, 'If I leave, I have to be the last to leave.'"
Many of Cardinal Delly's flock, which is estimated at million worldwide, have been fleeing Iraq, not only to escape the larger war but also growing intolerance among some Muslims in that war torn Nation.
Last year, Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, Syria, who cares for the approximately 60,000 Iraqi Christian refugees in Syria, opined in a Nov. 28 interview that war in Iraq might cause the end of Christianity in the country.
He noted that hundreds of thousands of Christians have had to leave their homes in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. He went on to say that most were still afraid to return, telling the Catholic News service "They love their country, but at the same time it is impossible for them to go back to this situation."
The situation is dire....and increasingly deadly.
Last year, on the Feast of Pentecost, armed Muslims confronted Father Ragheed Ganni, a Chaldean Catholic priest, along with three of his sub-deacons, Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho, and Gassan Isam Bidawed.. The priest and his deacons had just left the Sunday celebration of Holy Mass at their Parish Church in Mosul, Iraq. That parish is dedicated to the Holy Spirit.
These Islamic extremists forcibly insisted that these three Chaldean Catholic Clergymen convert to Islam or face death. The brave priest and three clerics chose fidelity to Christ instead. So, the armed extremists became executioners, killing them all after leading the sub-deacon Bidaweds wife away.
They then filled the vehicle the holy men were about to enter with explosives, placing them around their dead bodies.This was intended to either prevent the faithful from rescuing their bodies in order to honor their martyrdom, or to cause more carnage. Fortunately, they were unsuccessful.
Later that evening, the police in Mosul were able to defuse the explosives and collect the bodies.The funeral was a profoundly beautiful moment in the history of this proud part of the Catholic Church.
Chaldean Catholics in Iraq and in the Diaspora throughout the world immediately proclaimed, with the sense of the faithful, that Father Raghhed and his sub-deacons were holy martyrs. They were joined in this act by their brother and sister Catholics throughout the entire Catholic Church, which is present in every Nation.
Pope Benedict XVI prayed for these holy martyrs and has repeatedly praised them as an example of modern martyrdom. Father Ragheed is increasingly held up as a model for not only Chaldean Catholics, but for other Catholics who are suffering increasing hostility and persecution for fidelity to the ancient Christian faith.
Asia News recorded the last words of the holy priest- martyr "Without Sunday, without the Eucharist the Christians in Iraq cannot survive" and honored him with these words
This report continued: After having fed his faithful with the Body and Blood of Christ, he (Father Ragheed) gave his own blood, his own life for Iraq, for the future of his Church. This young priest had willingly, knowingly chosen to remain by the side of his parishioners from Holy Spirit parish in Mosul, judged the most dangerous city after Baghdad.
His reasoning was simple: without him, without its pastor, his flock would have been lost. In the barbarity of suicide attacks and bombings, one thing at least was clear, and gave him the strength to resist: "Christ, Ragheed would say, challenges evil with his infinite love, he keeps us united and through the Eucharist he gifts us life, which the terrorists are trying to take away".
The assault against Catholics in Iraq has continued, and sadly, is escalating. On Friday, February 29, 2008 armed extremists kidnapped the archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. They killed three of his assistants.
Archbishop Faraj Rahho, like Father Ragheed, was doing what all holy priests do, ministering to the faithful on behalf of the Lord. He had just concluded the Way of the Cross wherein the faithful are led in a commemoration of the last steps of Jesus Christ as he lovingly chose to give His life for the life of the world on the Mountain of Golgotha.
Once again, The Archbishops story, like Father Ragheed and countless others, makes the truth of the Christian claim real and palpable to a world which is losing a sense of the reality of Gods presence.
That is what saints do. There actions are fueled by living faith and will never be extinguished by the enemies of the Gospel.
It was the early Church Father and historian Tertullian who wrote these words at the dawn of the Christian faith : "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."
Pope Benedict XVI immediately deplored this recent kidnapping as a "despicable" crime and called all of the faithful throughout the world to engage in concentrated fervent prayer.
Witnesses report that Archbishop Rahho had just left the very same Church where Father Ragheed pastored, the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul. His car was ambushed by armed men who sprayed it with bullets, killing two men who were travelling with him and the driver. The terrorists then kidnapped the Bishop at gunpoint.
The Bishop of Irbil, a neighboring City, Bishop Rabban al-Qas, told reporters that Archbishop Rahho is "in the hands of terrorists". Speaking to the Rome-based Catholic news service, AsiaNews he continued with these disturbing words: ... we don't know what physical condition [he is in]....It's a terrible time for our church - pray for us."
Latest reports from reliable sources indicate that the kidnappers have communicated demands, but that the specifics of those demands have not been revealed to the public.
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, spoke to President George Bush last year concerning his deep concerns for the Christian faithful in Iraq in the continuing insurgency.
He told the President "...Particularly in Iraq, Christian families and communities are feeling increasing pressure from insecurity, aggression and a sense of abandonment".
We call on President Bush and the current American administration to do everything within their power to secure the release of Archbishop Rahho, so that we do not have to mourn one more Christian martyr in what is becoming a new missionary age.
We pledge our prayer and solidarity with our Chaldean Catholic brothers and sisters in Iraq, in America and throughout the world.
We ask all of the candidates currently running for the Presidency to specifically speak out in an effort to secure the freedom of the Archbishop and to then address the growing violence against Catholic Christians in Iraq.
And, finally, we commit ourselves to reporting on this story and all of the other stories which show an aspect of the difficult situation in Iraq which is not being covered by the American Press.
Archbishop Faraj Rahho
Born on: November 20, 1942 Place of Birth: Mosul, Iraq Ordained Priest: June 10, 1965 Ordained Bishop: February 16, 2001 Status: Working in the Chaldean Diocese in Mosul Address: Mosul, Iraq
Prayers going up!
Any outcry from CAIR on this?
Heck, anything from the US Episcopals on this?
Prayers up for Archbishop Rahho.
Prayers that he will be freed sound and safe.
...& will all the muslim religious leaders protest this outrage????????
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Such has been the fate of many in our faith throughout the centuries. May God help him and all who suffer under the brutality of ISLAM.
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Prayers for this archbishop!
“The assault against Catholics in Iraq has continued, and sadly, is escalating.”
Its the Eastern bookend of the Bush legacy, Kosovo and the smoking ruins of Orthodox Churches and monasteries being the western one. In both instances and everywhere in between, we could have done something, in neither did we. You see, that might have identified the United States with Christianity and that is absolutely the last thing a man like Bush, who has spent his presidency groveling before the Saudis, would want. Supporting Latins and Orthodox and other sorts of Eastern Christians probably wouldn’t go over too well with the bring your own snake crowd in “the base” either.
That is absolutely what it is, but I'm not even sure it's because he's groveling to the Saudis. I think he has this insane desire to be more PC than the most PC and prove that the US doesn't particularly support Christians, even though (or because) Bush is one. It's a demented approach that has strenghthened Islam enormously all over the world and makes me think that it will probably take over here within the next 20 years. Bush essentially threw open the doors and invited it in, all to prove how "fair" he was.
“...prove that the US doesn’t particularly support Christians, even though (or because) Bush is one.”
I used to think so. I don’t anymore. He’s either an atheist whose only god is global capital or he’s apostasized to Mohammedanism.
I think he’s probably become a liberal Protestant, basically; they’re non-Trinitarian and very little different from deists deep down inside (I don’t even think they’re theists, really).
Of course, since Islam is also a syncretist cult that is a mixture of OT ritual law, paganism, and non-Trinitarian Arian Christianity (Jesus is essentially just a prophet), it’s very easy for people like Bush and all liberal Protestants to be sympathetic to it and even perhaps accept it ultimately.
“Of course, since Islam is also a syncretist cult that is a mixture of OT ritual law, paganism, and non-Trinitarian Arian Christianity (Jesus is essentially just a prophet), its very easy for people like Bush and all liberal Protestants to be sympathetic to it and even perhaps accept it ultimately.”
I should think it would have a particular affinity for unrestrained globalist capitalism too. After all, everything and everyman has its/his price and the only thing with value is more money in this New World Order the political elites have given us. When the Mohammedans do come in force, the apostasy on the one hand and the slaughter of those who don’t know what to do on the other will be extraordinary.
Many Rosaries being offered for the Archbishop’s safe return. May God hold him safe in the palm of his hand.
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