Monday, December 11, 2006

Another Chaldean priest abducted, freed.

Buried under the weight of papers for Aristotle and Church History - both of which have thankfully been turned in - I initially missed last Tuesday's story on the abduction of Father Samy Al Raiys, the rector of the Chaldean Catholic major seminary in Baghdad. However, this morning I was pleased to read that Father Al Raiys has been released by his still-unknown captors. Father Al Raiys is the second Chaldean Catholic priest to be kidnapped in recent weeks, following Father Doglas Yousef Al Bazy, who was taken from his parish last month and held captive for nine days before being released. Though I'm thankful that both men are now safe and apparently unharmed, I'm concerned about a pattern that may be revealed by their kidnapping. Fathers Al Raiys and Al Bazy are both prominent members of the Chaldean community - Father Al Raiys serves as rector of the Chaldean Catholic Church's leading center for priestly formation, while Father Al Bazy has been heavily involved in youth ministry and ecumenical relations. My fear is that the kidnapping of these two priests is part of a calculated effort to intimidate the Chaldean community by targeting its most visible leaders. In a larger sense, organized church life is already very difficult. As the article on Father Al Raiys' release from captivity notes, the Chaldean major seminary in Baghdad has had to delay the start of classes for this academic year because of violence and instability in the Iraqi capital. Elsewhere in the country, a theological institute for laypeople that has operated in Mosul since 1983 continues to offer classes, but has had to relocate for security reasons and faces severely diminished enrollment. As we await the birth of the Christ Child, let us continue to pray for the Christians of Iraq, for whom this season of peace and joy is dominated by violence and fear. AMDG.


Post a Comment

<< Home