BY: ROBERT EWAN
Bishop Youssef Ibrahim Sarraf was the second Roman Catholic bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Cairo, Egypt.Born in Cairo on 5th October 1940.Since his early days of childhood he felt the call to priesthood running within his veins. He attended the Jesuit-run primary school of the Holly Family and after completing his elementaryÂ education he joined St Leoâ€™s Patriarchal seminary in the opaque suburb of Maadi in Cairo. He studied diligently immersed in the world of religion.His precocious brilliance and hunger for knowledge was noticed by the Chaldean Patriarch and he was sent to Rome to complete his philosophy and theology studies at the Propaganda Fides College. He then studied law in the Latheran university were he obtained his doctorate. He was ordained priest in 19th December 1964.
He was appointed the representative of the Patriarch in Rome were he also lectured in law at the Urban University in Rome and apostolic nuncio for the Chaldeans in Europe.
This was the time when the Middle East was witnessing serious political turmoil. The simmering resentments towards Christians were growing amidst the rise of nationalistic fervour this was further compounded in 1967 after the six-day war with Israel which resulted in a crushing defeat for the Arab armies. In these difficult and enduring times the young priest had to tread carefully to protect his small flock. He steered his small congregation preserving its style, tradition and its own liturgy in an ever changing Egyptian society. He also worked as Secretary in the second Vatican Council. He was instrumental in initiating dialogue between Christians and Muslims and he called the relationship between them as â€œcordialâ€.
In 6th February 1984 Sarraf was appointed Bishop of the Eparchy of Cairo and was ordained on May 13 1984 by the late Chaldean Patriarch Paulos II Sheikho.
He continued to tackle the challenges that faced the Catholic Church in Egypt: religious fundementalisim, the emigration of caders of Egyptian Christians, The Iraqi Christian refuges He also promoted fervently the communion between different Christian rites.
He was elected to the Pontifical council for the family (council responsible for pastoral ministry to the families) which was instituted by Pope John Paul II.
On May 2009 he celebrated his jubilee anniversary at Our Lady of Fatimaâ€™s Cathedral Heliopolis (Cairo) .His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter of congratulation for the occasion asking our lord to give him grace and strength for the future pastoral work.
Â In October 2009 He was appointed on the special council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops of Africa. During a press conference he called upon the Catholic leaders in Africa to â€œrepent or quit public office and to stop wreaking havoc on their countriesâ€.
Bishop Sarraf passed away on 31st December 2009