.- Archbishop Paulos Rahho, who was kidnapped on February 29, was found dead yesterday near Mosul, according to Bishop Shlemon Warduni. Pope Benedict XVI has once again condemned the kidnapping of the archbishop as “an act of inhuman violence” and expressed his pain at the news of the Iraqi prelate’s death.
“Bishop Rahho is dead. We found him lifeless near Mosul. His abductors had buried him,” Bishop Shlemon Warduni told SIR.
Bishop Warduni, who is the auxiliary bishop of Baghdad, related how the Iraqi Church discovered that Archbishop Rahho was dead:
“Yesterday, the abductors had told us that Bishop Rahho was very ill; yesterday afternoon, they told us he had died. This morning, they called us to say they had buried him. Some of our young men followed the directions given by the abductors to reach the place. Here they dug up and found the lifeless bishop. We do not know yet whether he died because of his unstable health or if he has been killed. The abductors only told us he had died”.
CNN is reporting that the archbishop's body was found with gunshot wounds.
Upon finding out about the archbishop’s death, Pope Benedict sent a telegram to Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq.
In his telegram the Pope expresses his closeness "to the Chaldean Church and to the entire Christian community", reaffirming his "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".
Benedict XVI gives assurances of his prayers for the archbishop "who was kidnapped just after he had completed the Way of the Cross" and invokes 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. also released the following declaration today:
"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".