The assassination of the Chaldeans Catholic Archbishop Paul Faraj in Mosul, received wide public, political and religious condemnation and angry reactions. He was kidnapped two weeks ago from Mosul.
The body of the Archbishop was buried in the presence of hundreds of Iraqi Christians, who jammed the streets of East Mosul to attend his funeral and burial ceremony in the church of Mar Addi in Karam Lech village.
The congregate who were dressed in black gathered around the church of Mar Addi early in the morning, coming from all different areas of Mosul, in addition to delegations from Dohuk, Erbil, Kirkuk, Baghdad and other provinces. They carried candles and posters of the Archbishop, and chanted prayers.
The martyred Archbishop was killed by his kidnappers, who were not swayed by his religious symbol or by his life work to promote peace, love and joy in the face of fear, hatred and tears. They were not swayed either by the local, regional and international appeal for his release.
The body of the martyr had no visible bullet wounds, and it was not known if he died because of torture. Statements condemning his abduction and death came from all over the world.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani sent a letter of condolence to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, and to His Eminence Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Head of the Chaldean Church in Iraq and the World.
“While we convey our deep condolences, we assure you that the criminals will not be able to plant hatred and strife among us, and the Christians, the original Iraqis, will remain working with their Muslim brothers and all other Iraqi sects and religions, to eradicate the roots of the hatred and division, and to consolidate the ties of brotherhood, love and harmony,” Talabani wrote.
Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki accused Al-Qaeda of the crime. He said that the perpetrators of this heinous crime would be brought to justice, stressing that the government was committed to the protection of Christians in Iraq. Christians make up about three percent of the population.
Safiya Al-Suhail, the independent member of the parliament said, “we have received the news of the martyrdom of Archbishop Rahho with great sorrow and sadness. This cowardly and desperate act would not stop the love, tolerance and peace among the various religions living under the tents of Iraq for generations.”
The UN special envoy, Staffan de Mistura, condemned the assassination of the Bishop saying “the assassination was a hateful act, committed in cold blood against a man devoted his entire life to achieving peace, reconciliation and non-violence between different religions and groups.”
Gunmen abducted the Bishop on February 29 from Mosul in northern Iraq, after leaving the church.
At his last meeting with the media, Archbishop Rahho talked about his vision for the future. He said that there are certainly some frustrations regarding peace in the country at the present time, but the believers are holding on to God’s words. These words contain hope and life, and the words of God will triumph in the end.