Pope Benedict encourages Iraqi prelates

imgsize.jpgMurdered Chaldean prelate Archbishop Rahho of MosulVATICAN CITY (Zenit.org): Pope Benedict XVI is encouraging Chaldean prelates to continue giving “courageous testimony” in the midst of difficulties, especially in Iraq.

The Pope said this in an extensive discourse on January 24 to Chaldean bishops in Rome for their five-yearly visit.

“I salute their courage and perseverance faced to the tests and the threats of which they are victims,” he said of the faithful who face daily violence.

The Holy Father said he received with particular emotion the liturgical garments that belonged to Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul and Father Ragheed Ganni, who were killed in 2008 and 2007, respectively.

“The testimony that you are giving of the Gospel is an eloquent sign of the vivaciousness of your faith and the strength of your hope,” he said.

And he encouraged the Iraqis to persevere “with courage and hope”, despite persecution.

The Pontiff urged Chaldean Christians to give witness of the unity among themselves, as well as persevere in maintaining a Christian presence in the region.

“Especially in Iraq, the Chaldean Church, which is the (Christian) majority, has a particular responsibility to promote the communion and unity of the Mystical Body of Christ,” he said.

“In each eparchy, the diverse pastoral, administrative and economic structures foreseen by law are for you precious aids to effectively fulfil communion in the heart of the communities and favour collaboration