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Iraqi archbishop remembered at papal Mass March 17, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass for the soul of Iraqi Archbishop Paulos Faraj Raho on March 17, and added his prayers that the people of Iraq "may find the strength not to lose heart."

During the Mass, celebrated in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the apostolic palace, the Holy Father said that the events of Holy Week show a sharp "contrast between truth and lies, between the mildness and rectitude of Christ and the violence and dishonesty of His enemies." That same contrast, he said, can be seen in the life and death of the Chaldean archbishop.

The Pope paid particular attention to the reading from Isaiah, and his prophecy of the faithful servant who would proclaim justice. Christ, the Servant, "faced with an unjust condemnation, bears witness to the truth, remaining faithful to the law of love," the Pontiff said.

Archbishop Raho, in imitation of Christ, took up his own cross, the Pope said, and "thus he contributed to bringing justice to his martyred country and to the whole world, bearing witness to the truth."

Since learning that the Iraqi prelate died in captivity-- perhaps from wounds inflicted by his kidnappers, perhaps from the heart disease for which he was unable to receive medication while he was a captive-- the world "has wept at his death and the inhuman way he was compelled to end his earthly life," the Pope said. Yet we should also offer thanks to God, he said, for the good that the archbishop did in his life and the witness he left behind.

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