Paulos Faraj Rahho was the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul in Iraq.  He is now dead, having been kidnapped by Muslim fanatics (who knows whether Sunni or Shi'a?) last month as he was driving home from mass.  The kidnappers called the church today to report that the prelate had died and told whomever answered the phone where the body was dumped.  The Times today reports that the archbishop "had died of natural causes"--or, at least, that's what an official at the morgue told its reporter.

Faraj Rahho had high blood pressure and a heart ailment.  So he may just have expired when he stopped breathing.  But this isn't exactly a natural death.  Captivity.  Maybe torture.  Maybe starvation.

Pope Benedict XVI knows about Islamic extremism.  And he sent a letter to cardinals around the world telling them of this "act of inhuman violence that offends the dignity of human beings and sorely damages the cause of fraternal coexistence among the blessed peoples of Iraq."

He is correct about "inhuman violence" and offending "the dignity of human beings."  Benedict is wrong on the rest.  There has never been "fraternal coexistence"in Mesapotamia.  As for the "blessed peoples of Iraq," they are not at all blessed.  They are cursed.