Christians appeal for canonization of the Martyrs of Baghdad

“We ask that the martyrs of Iraq be canonized, because the example of their lives and their sacrifice is an inspiration to us all as Christians, Arabs and non alike, living in the Middle East.” These are words taken from an internet petition that has been launched by a group of Arab Christians living in the Holy Land.

In the massacre of October 31, in the Syriac Catholic Church of Our Lady of Deliverance in Baghdad, over 40 faithful were killed, including two priests, Fr. Thair Sad-alla Abd-al and Fr. Waseem Sabeeh Al-kas Butros, as they prayed with their people: “Their names join the list of Christians who have died in Iraq for their faith, as Christians of the region continue to face a serious threat,” says the petition. Both the Catholic Church and the various Orthodox Christian churches recognize as martyrs those who have died at the hands of those who hate the Christian faith.

“As Arab Christians in the Holy Land, would like to reaffirm our desire to live our Christian faith in the same land where Christ died and rose for our salvation and where his apostles proclaimed the Good News to our ancestors,” continues the text, recalling that the Middle East, birthplace of Christianity, has borne fruit by the power of the Holy Spirit and now expresses a plurality of believers: Greek-Catholics, Syrian Catholics, Copts, Maronites, Armenians, Latins, Lutherans, Anglicans, and others.

Following the tradition of the Early Church, the Christian Arabs ask that those who die as martyrs be recognized and honored as saints, in particular: Fr. Thair Sad-alla Abd-al and Fr. Waseem Sabeeh Al-kas Butros and their companions, who were murdered on October 31 by Islamist terrorists. Others mentioned are the Chaldean Sisters Fawzeiyah and Margaret Naoum, killed March 26, 2007; the Chaldean priest Fr. Raghid Aziz Ganni and sub-deacons Yousef Daoud, Wahid Hanna Isho, and Gassan Issam Bidawid, killed June 3, 2007 in Mosul; Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj of Mosul, found dead March 13, 2008. The website also recalls the murder of Syriac Orthodox Father Boulos Iskandar and Father Joseph Petros, killed in Baghdad on October 9, 2006; Father Amer Iskander, Syriac Orthodox, who was found beheaded on October 11, 2006; and Reverend Mundher Aldayr, a Protestant minister who was killed in Mosul on November 26, 2006

Visitors to the website can add their names to the petition. The website also lists the names of the Iraqi Christians murdered in Baghdad in October. The website notes that it has been organized by a group of “anonymous Christians.”