Beirut (Fides Service) – On July 7 in Beirut, Lebanon, His Beatitude Raphael I Bidawid, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, died at the age of 81, after some months in hospital. The Patriarch was born in Mosul, Iraq in 1922. He entered Mosul minor seminary at the age of 11 and three years later was sent to study theology and philosophy in Rome.
Ordained a priest in 1944 he obtained a doctorate in theology and philosophy. In 1947 he left Rome and returned to Mosul to carry out his pastoral ministry among the Chaldean Christians. Although still a young priest he was appointed vice rector of the seminary where he also taught French and moral theology.
In 1956 he was appointed Patriarchal Vicar for the diocese of Kirkuk and a year later he was appointed and ordained Bishop of Amadya, at the time the youngest bishop in the world, only 35 years old. In 1966 he was transferred to the diocese of Beirut.
On 5 May 1989 the Chaldean Bishops held a Synod in Baghdad to elect a new Patriarch to succeed Mar Pulus II Chekho, who died in April 1989. On 21 May the Synod elected His Beatitude Raphael I Bidawid. He was installed in Baghdad on May 29 in the presence of about 10,000 faithful. On 9 November that same year he received the Pallium from Pope John Paul II.PA (Fides Service 8/7/2003 EM lines 23 Words: 271)