ASIA/IRAQ - “Christians forgive violence, hope for peace and will work for peaceful harmony among the Iraqi people” said Father Nizar Semaan after Archbishop’s release

Tuesday, 18 January 2005

Mosul (Agenzia Fides)- “We are all relieved and delighted that Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa is safe” Father Nizar Semaan, Catholic priest in Mosul told Fides, confirming the news that the Archbishop taken hostage yesterday was released this morning “we are still waiting for him at the Bishop’s residence”.
The priest said that “we Christians of Iraq forgive violence and hope to continue to work for peace and peaceful harmony among in Iraqi”.
The Syrian-Catholic community comprises 75.000 Catholics in two dioceses Baghdad and Mosul. The Bishop of Baghdad is Athanase Matti Shaba Matoka and Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa is in charge of Mosul diocese. After Jesuit and Franciscan missions which began in Aleppo (Syria) in 1626, part of the Church, known as Jacobite, decide to unite with the Church of Rome, becoming the Syrian-Antiochian Catholic Church retaining its Patristic and liturgical heritage. In Iraq Syrian Catholics live all over the country. There is a small community in Bassor , a community of 30,000 Bagdad and a total of about 45,000 in Kirkuk and Mosul. The liturgical languages used are Arabic and Aramaic particularly in villages around Mosul, such as Karakosh, where there are almost 25,000 Catholics. The Patriarchate of Syrian Catholics is in Beirut, Lebanon. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 18/1/2005 righe 22 parole 262)