Thursday, March 13, 2008

We need the Peace that surpasses understanding...

Kidnapped Iraqi Archbishop Is Dead

Published: March 14, 2008

BAGHDAD — The body of the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, Paulos Faraj Rahho, who was kidnapped by gunmen in Mosul in northern Iraq late last month as he drove home after afternoon Mass, was discovered Thursday in an area south of the city, church officials and Iraqi police said.

A church official in Baghdad, Cardinal Emmanuel Dali, confirmed that Archbishop Rahho’s body had been found and taken to the morgue in Mosul. The body would be released to the archbishop’s family late Friday or early Saturday so that they could bury him, Cardinal Dali said.

The body was found buried in the ground in al-Intessar, a residential area near the city known as a haven for gangs and criminal activity. Iraqi officials in Mosul said that the church had received a phone call telling them were to find the body, and church officials dug up the body with the help of the local police.

It was not immediately clear how the archbishop died. However, Msgr. Shlemon Warduni, the auxiliary bishop of Baghdad, was quoted by Sir, the news service of the Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops, as saying that the body showed no sign of gunshot wounds or other violence. He said the archbishop was in precarious health and his kidnapping could have aggravated his condition. He said the kidnappers had called on Wednesday to say that the archbishop was ill and later that he had died.

A morgue official in Mosul also said the body showed no signs of violence and that the archbishop had apparently died from natural causes. The archbishop had suffered from high blood pressure and had a heart condition.

In the kidnapping, on Feb. 29, Archbishop Rahho’s car was sprayed with bullets and two of his body guards were killed.

The kidnapping followed a series of attacks in January on Christian churches in Mosul and Baghdad, including a Chaldean church.

After the attacks, Archbishop Rahho, the head of the Chaldean church in Mosul, appeared on television and made a strong statement against the attacks, according to an Iraqi Christian who watched the broadcast.

In the last few years, Mosul has been a difficult place for Christians. Last June, a priest and three companions were shot and killed in the same church where Archbishop Rahho presided.

In January 2005, Archbishop George Yasilious was kidnapped and later released. In October 2006, an Orthodox priest, Polis Iskander, was beheaded after he was kidnapped and attempts to ransom him failed.

The Chaldean church is an Eastern denomination that maintains ties with Rome.

The Vatican confirmed the death in the form of a telegram to cardinals. Pope Benedict XVI called it “an act of inhumane violence that offends the dignity of human beings and gravely damages the cause of fraternal co-existence among the blessed people of Iraq.”

The pope’s spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said: “Unfortunately, the most absurd and unwarranted violence keeps tormenting the Iraqi population, in particular the small Christian community, which the Pope and all of us are particularly close to, with our prayer and solidarity at this time of great sorrow.”

Ahmad Fadam, Kareem Hilmi, Khalid al-Ansary contributed reporting from Baghdad. An employee of the New York Times contributed reporting from Mosul. Ian Fisher contributed reporting from Rome and Graham Bowley from New York.

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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."