Pope's appeal for release of Iraqi priests

Pope Benedict has issued an appeal for the release of two Catholic priests who were kidnapped in Iraq.

The Syrian Catholic priests were kidnapped in Iraq on Saturday, October 13, Catholic World News reported.

There were conflicting reports on whether the priests were released, howevever AsiaNews Service reported that they were still being held by their kidnappers and that urgent negotiations were underway to secure their release.

Father Mazen Esho and Father Pius Affas were taken prisoner as they traveled to a church in Mosul to celebrate Mass.

While the identity of the kidnappers have not been disclosed, a ransom was demanded for their release, with a threat that the priests would be killed if the ransom was not promptly paid.

The head of the Syrian Catholic Eparchy in Mosul, Archbishop Basile Casmoussa, has been devoting his full attention to the negotiations with the priests' captors.

The Pope appealed to the kidnappers to release the two religious men "immediately" and added a "heartfelt prayer for their liberation, for all those suffering from violence, and for peace."

"This kidnapping is the latest in a series of violent attacks on Christians in Iraq," the Pope said.

Inside Iraq, Christian spokesmen complained the country's political leaders have appeared indifferent to the threats and attacks on the Christian minority.

Fears, negotiations for priests kidnapped in Iraq (Catholic World News, 15/10/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Chaldean Church

Vatican reasserts opposition to war in Iraq (CathNews, 04/10/02)
Chaldean Catholics demand role in post-Saddam Iraq rule (CathNews, 17/09/03)

16 Oct 2007