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Chaldean Seminary Rector Kidnapped in Iraq

BAGHDAD -- Father Sami Al-Rais, rector of the major Chaldean Seminary in Al Dora, Baghdad, was kidnapped Monday, according to Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni.

"They took him this morning around 9:30 a.m. just a few steps from the Church of Mar Khorkhis, in Baghdad Jadida," the prelate told the Italian bishops' SIR agency.

"We are faced with a new abduction," he added. "We await the request for a ransom. The world sleeps; if it doesn't wake up there will be no future for Iraq or for Iraqi Christians."

With the latest abduction, the number of kidnapped Chaldean priests in Baghdad now reaches five. Last October a Syro-Orthodox priest, Father Paul Iskandar, was murdered.

Father Al-Rais, who is also pastor of the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul near the seminary, was supposed to be present this Wednesday at the opening of the academic year of Babel College, run by the Catholic Church in Baghdad. He teaches moral theology there.

Given the unstable situation, the faculty has been moved from Al Dora to the Church of Mar Khorkhis. The ceremony to open the academic year at Babel College has been postponed.

Iraq's Chaldean patriarchate has launched an appeal on its Web page to the kidnappers, reported AsiaNews.

"We beg you not to harm him, and to treat him well," it states. "We place Father Sami in the Lord's and Providence's hands, asking him to help us save Iraq from these kidnappings that terrify everyone, adults and children."

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