Abducted Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Freed in Iraq
A 66-year-old Syrian Catholic archbishop kidnapped by masked gunmen was freed today, a day after his abduction, without the payment of any ransom, the Vatican said. Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, the head of the diocese in Mosul, a crime-ridden city in northern Iraq, was walking in front of his church when a group of insurgents pushed him into a car at gunpoint on Monday, several members of Mosul’s large Christian population community said.
Pope John Paul II, who had prayed for the archbishop’s release, was immediately informed of the release, the papal spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, said in a statement. “Thank God for the happy conclusion,” it added. Mr. Navarro-Valls said no ransom had been paid for the archbishop’s release. He added that the abduction had come as a surprise to the Vatican, because Archbishop Casmoussa was popular with both Christians and Muslims. It was the first time insurgents had seized such a prominent Christian leader.
Good, if perplexing, news.