Iraqi Bishop Assails Execution of Prelate's Abductor

Says Slain Archbishop Wouldn't Have Wanted It

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BAGHDAD, Iraq, MAY 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Church in Iraq is opposing the death penalty for one of the kidnappers involved in the March death of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho.



"If he were still alive, Archbishop Rahho himself would not permit that someone would die for him," Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad told AsiaNews. "Let us recall that the principles that have always inspired the Church are forgiveness and reconciliation."

Bishop Warduni was the representative of the Church who tried to contact the kidnappers after they abducted Archbishop Rahho on Feb. 29 outside of a church where he had led the Way of the Cross; it was a Friday of Lent. 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 archbishop's body was found March 13 in a shallow grave. He was 65.

On Sunday, it was announced that Ahmad Ali Ahmad, an alleged militant from al-Qaida, was condemned to death for involvement in the crime. No date has been given for his execution.

Bishop Warduni affirmed, "Violence should not call for more violence! We are on the side of justice, not the death penalty."

Other Iraqi bishops have made similar public declarations.