Time running out for Archbishop Raho?

Mosul, Mar. 7, 2008 (CWNews.com) – A week after Archbishop Paulos Faraj Raho was kidnapped in Mosul, Iraqi Catholics are increasingly fearful for the prelate’s life.

The bishop’s kidnappers have repeated their ransom demands, the AsiaNews service reports. But they have not allowed Church officials to speak directly with the Chaldean Catholic archbishop.

The physical condition of Archbishop Raho remains unknown. Three companions– his driver and two bodyguards– were shot and killed by the gunmen who abducted the prelate after he left Mosul’s Holy Spirit cathedral on Friday, February 29, after leading the Stations of the Cross. Archbishop Raho suffers from a heart condition, for which he takes daily medication.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki has ordered an all-out effort to find the archbishop’s kidnappers. But to date the search by the Iraqi military has not produced results.

Church officials in Iraq have confirmed that the kidnappers submitted a ransom demand that, in addition to a large financial consideration, included political conditions that “complicate the case” of securing his release.