Bishop Kenney to visit Christians in Iraq

Bishop Kenney to visit Christians in Iraq

Bishop William Kenney, auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham and Spokesman on European Affairs for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is planning to visit Northern Iraq from 11-16 April, writes Peter Jennings.

Bishop Kenney said yesterday: “I have been to Iraq on several occasions and plan to visit the ancient city of Arbil (also written Erbil)in Northern Iraq during April at the invitation of the local bishop to show solidarity with the local church.

“Bishop Crispian Hollis, Chairman of the Department of International Affairs, is also planning to be there for part of the time.”

Arbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government, lies about fifty miles east of Mosual, and is believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Bishop Kenney explained: “During the visit we plan to meet with priests, religious, people in the parishes and celebrate Mass for Iraqi Chaldean Catholics.”

He said: “Our message to the Christians of Arbil is a simple one ­ ‘We have not forgotten you’.”

Bishop Kenney, who is responsible for Coventry, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire, emphasised the importance of prayer and encourage Catholics throughout the United Kingdom to prayer for the people of Iraq.

He said: “I urge Catholics, Christians of other traditions, and people of all faiths, please keep the tragic situation in Iraq in your prayers each day.”

Bishop Kenney added: “Please pray in particular for the Iraqi Chaldean Catholics following the sudden death of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul.”

Archbishop Rahho, aged 65, was abducted in Mosul on 29 February, shortly after celebrating the Stations of the Cross for Lent. The car of the Chaldean Catholic archbishop was attacked by gunmen, who killed his driver and one of his guards. His kidnappers revealed on 12 March where his body could be found.

Bishop Kenney, CP a member of the Passionist Congregation, was an Auxiliary Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden, from 1987 until 17 October 2006, when the Vatican announced his move to the Archdiocese of Birmingham