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Archbishop Faraj Rahho is Found Dead

By Deacon Keith Fournier
March 13th, 2008
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The beloved Archbishop of Mosul, Iraq was found dead, another True Martyr in Iraq. Catholic Online pledges our prayer and solidarity to our Chaldean Catholic brothers and sisters in Iraq, in America and throughout the world.

LOS ANGELES (Catholic Online) - Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mossul of the Chaldeans has gone home to the Lord, martyred for his faith.

Reports indicate that his abductors called and directed those who sought his release to where they had buried him.It is unclear as to how he died.He was known to be in ill health and the trauma of this violent abduction could have led to his death.

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram to the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, expressing his deep sorrow and his closeness "to the Chaldean Church and to the entire Christian community."

As he has since February 29, 2008 when the Archbishop was taken captive by armed kidnappers and two of his traveling companions were executed, the Pope expressed strong "condemnation for an act of inhuman violence which offends the dignity of human beings and seriously damages the cause of the fraternal coexistence of the beloved Iraqi people".

He committed his continued prayer on behalf of this holy man and all who suffer in Iraq, invoking the Lord's mercy "that this tragic event may serve to build a future of peace in the martyred land of Iraq".

Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following statement: "We had all continued to hope and pray for his release, something the Pope had requested on a number of occasions in his appeals.

Unfortunately the most senseless and unjustified violence continues to be inflicted on the Iraqi people, and especially on the small Christian community to which the Pope and all of us are particularly close in prayer and solidarity at this moment of great suffering.

It is to be hoped that this tragic event may once more - and more powerfully - underline the responsibility of everyone, and especially of the international community, for the pacification of so troubled a country".

Catholic Online has consistently reported on the abduction of Archbishop Rahho, seeking to call world attention to the event. We appealed to the United States Government to join with other Nations and the United Nations and speak out formally, condemning this evil act and demanding his return.

No such formal statement was ever made.

Now, it is too late.

The Archbishop was deeply admired and loved by his flock, the Chaldean Catholic community of Iraq. His devotion to the Lord and his beloved Chaldean Catholic faith was matched only by his dedication to the faithful who are suffering increasing persecution in Iraq.

These deeply devout Eastern Catholic Christians are also living in the United Sates and throughout the world. Their largest communities in America are in Detroit, Detroit, Michigan and El Cajon, California. We express to all of them our sincere condolences and offer our solidarity in prayer and action.

In Iraq, Chaldean Catholics are the center of an escalating wave of anti-Christian violence. With the murder of their dear Bishop Rahho, they now offer the Lord another martyr.

His witness in dying for the faith calls all of us who bear the name Christian to mourn, pray and rededicate ourselves, in his honor, to living heroic Christian lives, wherever we are, taking our place alongside of our Chaldean Catholic brethren in this new missionary age.

Last year, on the Feast of Pentecost, armed Muslims confronted Father Ragheed Ganni, another 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.

Islamic extremists 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 Bidawed’s wife away.

They 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 by their brother and sister Catholics throughout the entire Catholic Church, which is present in every Nation.

Now, Archbishop Rahho has joined his brothers.

On Febrauary 29, 2008, Archbishop Rahho left the same Church where Father Ragheed pastored.His car was ambushed by armed men who sprayed it with bullets, killing the men who were travelling with him and the driver. The terrorists kidnapped the Bishop at gunpoint.

Now, he is dead. He has gone home to His father’s house. The Archbishop’s 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 God’s presence.

That is what saints do. Their actions are fueled by living faith and will never be extinguished by the enemies of the Gospel.

The early Church Father and historian Tertullian wrote these words at the dawn of the Christian faith: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." They are as true today as they were then.

We at Catholic Online, pledge our prayer and solidarity with our Chaldean Catholic brothers and sisters in Iraq, in America and throughout the world, and join in their mourning for the loss of this Holy man.

We call on the United States Government to condemn this brutal act and do all that they can do to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

We ask each of the three candidates running for the Presidency of the United States, to specifically speak out concerning the brutal murder of this godly man. We further ask that they specifically address the growing violence against Catholic Christians in Iraq.

And, finally, we commit ourselves to continuing to report on this story and the broader story, the horrible situation facing Christians in Iraq.

Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho
Born on: November 20, 1942
Place of Birth: Mosul, Iraq
Ordained Priest: June 10, 1965
Ordained Bishop: February 16, 2001
Date of Passing to the Lord: March 12, 2008

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