Iraq: Tragic Death of Archbishop Faraj Rahho

Source: FSSPX News


Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, of Mosul, kidnapped by unknown gunmen on February 29, at the end of the Stations of the Cross, and found dead on Thursday March 13, was buried in Kremlesh, a Christian village in Nineveh Plain, some thirty kilometers from Mosul. A Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Chaldean Patriarch of Bagdad, in the church of Mar Adda on March 14. The cardinal exhorted the faithful to reconciliation in Iraq and asked them to pray for those who were responsible for the deaths of Archbishop Rahho, his driver, and his two bodyguards.

“There is no doubt about it, Archbishop Rahho is a martyr,” stated Bishop Francesco Chullikatt, the apostolic nuncio for Iraq and Jordan. In an interview granted to the Osservatore Romano on March 16, the nuncio wished that “this sacrifice may draw the attention of the whole world to the Iraqi crisis.” The autopsy, done on a partially decayed body, did not throw any light on the circumstances of his death. “The only thing we know for sure,” the nuncio concluded, “is that a sequestrated person undergoes violence. I do not preclude that even the poor archbishop was ill-treated during his captivity. All this, together with the precarious conditions of his detention, would have hastened his tragic death.”

On Sunday, March 16, after the Mass of Palm Sunday, Benedict XVI addressed the faithful on the occasion of the Angelus recited on St. Peter’s Square. “At the end of this solemn Celebration in which we have meditated on Christ’s Passion, I wish to recall the late Archbishop of Mossul for Chaldeans, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, who tragically passed away a few days ago. His beautiful witness of fidelity to Christ, to the Church and to his people, who he did not want to abandon notwithstanding numerous threats, urges me to raise a strong and heart-rending cry:  stop the murders, stop the violence, stop the hatred in Iraq!”

“And at the same time,” he went on, “I raise an appeal to the Iraqi People, who for five years now are marked with the sign of war that has provoked the disruption of its civil and social life:  beloved Iraqi People, lift up your head and be yourself, in the first place, builders of your national life! May there be reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and respect for civil coexistence among tribes, ethnic and religious groups, the jointly responsible way to peace in the Name of God!”

On March 17, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, for the repose of the soul of the Iraqi archbishop. “We have entered Holy Week, bearing in our heart the drama and the sorrow of the tragic death of Archbishop Faraj Rahho,” were the first words of the pope’s homily. Benedict XVI commenting upon the unction by Mary in Bethany, in the Gospel of the day, continued: “I am thinking of the Holy Chrism which anointed the forehead of Archbishop Rahho at the time of his baptism and confirmation, anointed his hands on the day of his priestly ordination, and his head and hands on the day of his consecration as a bishop. But “I am also thinking of the many ‘anointings’ of filial affection and spiritual friendship… which his faithful gave him and which accompanied him in the terrible hours of his kidnapping and his painful detention (where perhaps he was already wounded when he arrived), and even unto his agony, his death, and that unworthy grave where his mortal remains were found.” Next, the Holy Father spoke about the personality of the deceased archbishop. “I know he had a special predilection for the poor, for the handicapped: for their physical and psychic assistance, he had founded a special association, called “Joy and Charity” (Farah wa Mahabba), to which he had entrusted the charge of putting forward such persons and support their families. Many had learned from him not to hide them but to see Christ in them.” (Sources: Apic/Imedia/VIS/Osservatore Romano)