Chaldean Bishop Dead in Iraq

May the angels care for him.  This is very sad.  A reminder of how brutally violent Iraq still is (800 dying a month).

An archbishop seized by gunmen last month in Iraq has been found dead.

The body of Paulos Faraj Rahho, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, was found in a shallow grave close to the city.

The Chaldean Church is a group of Eastern Rite Catholics in Communion with the Roman Catholic Church (i.e. Pope).   Christianity goes back in Iraq to probably the 2nd century most likely emerging from the Jewish populations who remained in Iraq (Babylon) during and then following the Jewish Exile of 587 BCE.  The Wise Men/Kings who came to the crib of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel may very well have been Iraqis (or Iranian).

The Iraq War which has unleashed ethnic, sectarian, and religious violence has been particularly brutal to the Iraqi Christian community (small to begin with).  Massive numbers of Chaldeans have fled either to the Kurdish north some to Lebanon and others to the US–it’s easier for Christians to get to America than Muslims.

I used to live in Detroit which in its surrounding suburbs has the largest diaspora community of Chaldeans.  I used to go to a Chaldean Catholic Church.  Very beautiful people and a very beautiful liturgy.

A story that comes out of the recent furor in the Middle East that does not get a lotta play is that in essence we are watching the end of Christianity in the Middle East the historic homeland and birthplace of the Christian faith.  Recall that by the time the Russians, Vikings, and (so-called) Germanic barbarians were converting to Christianity, Arab and Middle Eastern Christians had been members of the faith for 500-1000 years!!!

Christians today are heavily persecuted in Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq and struggling to survive in Syria, Iran, and Lebanon.

The most disturbing news of late was violence committed by Hamas members (rogue elements?) in their controlled territory of the Gaza against Palestinian Christians, something that Fatah (which was more nationalist) never would have done–Arafat used to spend Christmas in Bethlehem at a Christian Church.  Palestinian Christians suffer the double bind that a good many right-wing evangelical US Christian churches–John Hagee being the most extreme example–donate large sums of money and have influence to press for the furtherance of the Israeli occupation which oppresses and persecutes Christians (of course as well as Muslims).


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