Mosul Welcomes New Archbishop, Mourns Murders

MOSUL, Iraq, JAN. 19, 2010 ( Sunday was bittersweet for Mosul Catholics, who celebrated the arrival of their new archbishop while also mourning the murder of one of the faithful.

Archbishop Emil Shimoun Nona, whose election as the archbishop of Mosul of the Chaldeans was confirmed Nov. 13 by Benedict XVI, was officially installed in the archeparchy Sunday.

AsiaNews reported that the same day, Saadallah Youssif Jorjis, a 52-year-old Syrian Catholic, a husband and father of two daughters, was shot dead.

The news source, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the “persecution continues in the midst of general indifference.”

He asserted that this “ethnic cleansing” currently taking place in Mosul is “very similar to what happened in 2008.”

“They want to push Christians to the plain of Nineveh, and the community has lost confidence in the future,” the source added.

Jorjis owned a produce shop near his home, and was married to a woman who worked as a nurse.

A few days earlier, on Jan. 12, another grocer, Hikmat Sleiman, 75, was killed by an armed group.

Archbishop Rahho

The 2008 wave of violence claimed the life of the former archbishop of Mosul of the Chaldeans, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho.

He was kidnapped in February of that year outside of a church where he had led the Way of the Cross on a Lenten Friday. During the kidnapping, his three companions were killed.

For days there was no news from the archbishop or his kidnappers. Finally, after a phone call from the assailants, the prelate’s body was found March 13 in a shallow grave. He was 65.

The election of Archbishop Nona took place according to the tradition in the Eastern-rite Churches. The synod of bishops of the Chaldean Church made the decision, which was then approved by the Pope.

Sunday’s ceremony for Archbishop Nona was attended by several political and Muslim leaders.