Syrian Catholic Archbishop Kidnapped in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq, JAN. 17, 2005 ( The Iraqi Catholic archbishop of Mosul was kidnapped in what a Vatican spokesman called an “act of terrorism.”

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Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, 66, of the Syrian Catholic Church was taken hostage today in his archdiocese.

“We have received news of the kidnapping,” Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls told Reuters.

“The Holy See deplores this act of terrorism in the firmest manner and demands that the worthy pastor is swiftly freed unharmed to continue to carry out his ministry,” he said.

Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly of Baghad told the Missionary Service News Agency that the archbishop was taken hostage while leaving a house after a pastoral visit.

“He was kidnapped and put into a car,” the patriarch said. “We don’t know who kidnapped him or the motive for this action.”

“We have passed on news of the kidnapping to the Vatican,” he said. “Now we are doing everything possible to follow his steps. We are hoping that we will be able to save him.”

The patriarch urged prayers for the release of the archbishop.

Archbishop Casmoussa has been the Syrian Catholic leader of Mosul since 1999. The archdiocese has about 35,000 faithful.

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