martyr of Mosul
By Patrick J. Buchanan
06/22/07 "WND" -- - -On April 1 – Palm Sunday – after bullets
were fired into the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul, Iraq,
during mass, the pastor, Father Ragheed Ganni, a Chaldean
Catholic, e-mailed friends at the Asia Times:
"We empathize with Christ, who entered Jerusalem in full
knowledge that the consequence of His love for mankind was the
cross. Thus, while bullets smashed our church windows, we
offered our suffering as a sign of love for Christ."
The attacks continued. Father Ragheed wrote again: "Each day we
wait for the decisive attack, but we will not stop celebrating
mass; we will do it underground, where we are safer. I am
encouraged in this decision by the strength of my parishioners.
This is war, real war, but we hope to carry our cross to the
very end with the help of Divine Grace."
As the bombings in Mosul and Baghdad rose during April and May,
and priests were kidnapped, Father Ragheed grew weary. In his
last e-mail, May 28, he wrote, "We are on the verge of
A day before, Pentecost Sunday, a bomb exploded in his church,
and Father Ragheed seemed dispirited: "In a sectarian and
confessional Iraq, will there be any space for Christians? We
have no support, no group who fights for our cause; we are
abandoned in the midst of the disaster. Iraq has already been
divided. It will never be the same. What is the future of our
Though tempted by despair, Father Ragheed did not give up hope.
"I may be wrong, but I am certain about one thing – one single
fact that is always true: that the Holy Spirit will enlighten
people so that they will work for the good of humanity, in this
world so full of evil."
Following mass on Trinity Sunday, a week after Pentecost Sunday,
Father Ragheed and three sub-deacons were seized, taken away and
murdered. Their killers placed vehicles loaded with explosives
around the bodies so no one would dare approach them.
The story of "The Last Mass of Father Ragheed, a Martyr of the
Chaldean Church," is related by Sandro Magister of www.Chiesa.
Father Ragheed had completed his studies in Rome in 2003,
Magister writes, and returned full of hope. "That is where I
belong, that is my place," he said of Iraq. "Saddam has fallen,
we have elected a government, we have voted for a constitution."
Since 2003, an immense tragedy has befallen the Iraqi
Christians. In 2000, Chaldeans, Syro-Catholics, Syro-Orthodox,
Assyrians from the East, Catholic and Orthodox Armenians, and
Greek-Melkites together numbered 1.5 million. Today, perhaps
500,000 remain. Hundreds of thousands have found sanctuary in
Syria and Jordan, tens of thousands in Egypt and Lebanon. Among
the refugees are many of Iraq's professionals – doctors and
teachers who could have helped build a better future for all in
The region around Mosul and Nineveh, writes Magister, is the
"cradle of Christianity in Iraq. There are churches and
monasteries that go back to the earliest centuries. ... Aramaic,
the language of Jesus, is used in the liturgies."
As the war has dragged on, life has become hellish for the
remaining Christians. Yet they have never resorted to bombings
Father Ragheed is neither the first nor last of the Iraqi
After Pope Benedict gave his speech in Regensburg, Germany,
touching on Islam, Father Paulos Iskander was kidnapped and
beheaded in retaliation by the "Lions of Islam." Father Joseph
Petros was murdered. A Catholic nun told the Vatican news
agency: "The imams preach in the mosques that it is not a crime
to kill Christians. It is a hunting of men."
In May, St. George's Assyrian Church in the Dora neighborhood, a
Christian enclave of Baghdad, was burned down, destroying what
had survived a firebombing in 2004. The Assyrian International
News Agency (AINA) reports it was the 27th church destroyed by
Muslim gangs since the liberation of Iraq.
Now the ancient practice of the jizya – the "head tax" Muslims
have traditionally imposed on Christians, Jews and religious
minorities – is being reinstituted. According to AINA, "Al-Qaida
is demanding that Christians pay 250,000 dinars (around $200)
for the right to remain in their own homes, a sum equivalent to
an average month's salary in Iraq."
All this, and the news of Father Ragheed's murder, moved
Benedict XVI to raise the issue with President Bush.
For when Bush left the Vatican, he told reporters: "He (the
pope) is worrisome about the Christians inside Iraq being
mistreated by the Muslim majority. ... He was concerned that the
society that was evolving would not tolerate the Christian
For the martyrdom of Christianity in its birth cradle, blame
must fall heavily upon the men who conceived this misbegotten
on "comments" below to
read or post comments
Be succinct, constructive and
relevant to the story.
encourage engaging, diverse and
meaningful commentary. Do not
include personal information such
as names, addresses, phone
numbers and emails. Comments
falling outside our guidelines
those including personal
attacks and profanity are
See our complete
this link to notify us if you
have concerns about a comment.
Well promptly review and
remove any inappropriate
Send Page To a Friend
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational
purposes. Information Clearing House has no
affiliation whatsoever with the originator of
this article nor is Information ClearingHouse
endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)