The senseless campaign against Christians in Iraq has claimed yet another group of victims. Yesterday morning Fr. Ragheed Aziz Ganni was shot and killed in Mosul along with three sub-deacons after they had finished celebrating Mass. The names of those murdered are: Fr. Ragheed Aziz Ganni and sub-deacons Basman Yousef Daoud, Ghasan Bidawid and Wadid Hanna.
The Holy Father sent his prayers and condolences to the families of those killed by the terrorists saying, “[I] willingly join[s]the Christian community in Mosul in commending their souls to the infinite mercy of God our loving Father and in giving thanks for their selfless witness to the Gospel.”
Benedict called people to be inspired by the example of the martyrs and, “reject the ways of hatred and violence, to conquer evil with good and to cooperate in hastening the dawn of reconciliation, justice and peace in Iraq.”
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has also reported that it received a letter from Fr. Ganni written just four days before he was killed.
The agency, which supports the formation of priests, related that, “The 34-year-old priest had studied at the pontifical Angelicum University in Rome with the financial support of ACN, and had concluded his studies in ecumenical ecclesiology there.”
In his letter to ACN, Fr. Ganni spoke with courage and gratitude. "I only wanted to tell you that I always pray for you all, that the Lord might preserve you from all evil." He considered it a "privilege" that he had always been able to witness to the way in which "Divine providence is revealed through many quite humble people whose only goal is to work for the Kingdom of God by following the example of Jesus".
The late Iraqi priest also mentioned his gratitude for the chance to meet the founder of ACN, Fr. Werenfried van Straaten, before he died in 2003. The mission of the agency is to, “write a martyrology of the modern age", and to do so "not in a scholar's study but as an eyewitness, and hence with great compassion and profoundest sympathy.”
Fr. Ganni now joins the ranks of these martyrs in his willingness to, “give a great deal more for his country… Ragheed Ganni had even given his own blood.”