- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2008

The body of kidnapped Iraqi Archbishop Paolos Faraj Rahho was discovered on the outskirts of the northern city of Mosul today, Church officials said.

Pope Benedict XVI immediately denounced what he called “an act of inhuman violence that offends human dignity.”

Benedict had appealed on Sunday during his weekly Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square for the release of the ailing Chaldean prelate, who was abducted by gunmen Feb. 29 as he left the Holy Spirit Church in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The archbishop was celebrating a Way of the Cross service for Lent. The kidnappers killed the archbishop’s driver and two bodyguards.

The drama has reinforced the pontiff’s determination to seek support from President Bush when he meets him at the White House next month to quell the growing exodus of Christians from iraq, Vatican sources said. Monsignor Shlemuni Warduni, the auxiliary bishop of Baghdad, told the Italian Catholic agency SIR that “we found him (Rahho) dead on the outskirts of Mosul. The kidnappers had buried him. It was not clear whether the prelate had died from wounds sustained during his abduction or had been murdered subsequently, Church sources said. Benedict in a telegram of condolence to the Chaldean church in Baghdad said he would say prayers in honor of Archbishop Rahho during Easter Way of the Cross ceremonies. “I ask the Lord for his mercy that this tragic event may serve to build a future of peace in the martyred land of Iraq,” the pope said. Vatican diplomats had feared that the archbishop, in poor health after an operation last year, would not survive the ordeal, Vatican sources said. The Chaldeans are an Eastern rite church aligned with the Roman Catholic Church and recognize the authority of the pope

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