Iraqi family speaks with pope about their son, a martyred priest

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Persecuted Christians
During the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis listened attentively to the testimony of this Iraqi family.
“Today many Christians and others are building new lives in Iraq, often with the help of Christians from around the world. They are building new homes so that families can live together in peace again. Now, Holy Father, we can look once to the future with hope.”

It is the family of Fr. Ragheed Ganni, a priest murdered in Mosul for refusing to close the doors of his church. Jihadists kidnapped him and shot him to death.

His story is explained in this book, which Fr. Ganni’s sister gave Pope Francis.

The author is Fr. Rebwar Basa, a friend of Fr. Ragheed who has documented his whole life and martyrdom here.

Chaldean priest
“It is a great honor for me that, on the occasion of this celebration, the book I wrote was delivered to the Holy Father. It is a great joy. Yet, the most important thing is to share the stories of those who give their lives on a daily basis; who have served the Church and the people with their blood. Above all, the poor, the people who suffer; and those who do it with joy and in silence.”

Fr. Basa also accompanied the family of the martyred priest to Ireland. They were parents and siblings, who not only suffered from Fr. Ragheed’s murder, but also from persecution. When radicals killed the priest in 2007, the family fled Mosul to the Nineveh Plains. Seven years later they had to leave their new home because of the arrival of ISIS. Now, after three years in Turkey, they have managed to establish themselves in Australia.

Chaldean priest
“We thought about inviting them to the meeting of families because, not only Fr. Ragheed, but also his family is a great testimony of a Christian family. They have given a son to the Church and, through the Church, also to humanity. That’s what makes the experience worthwhile and so important in these difficult times.”

It is still a difficult time, when Iraqi Christian families are torn between staying in their country or emigrating elsewhere to live more peacefully.

Chaldean priest
“According to Patriarch Sako of the Chaldean Church, from 2003 to today, at least 1,920 Christians have been killed for their identity and 58 churches have been attacked and bombed. Those statistics don’t include what ISIS has done in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plain. At least a million Christians, from 2003 to today have been forced to leave their land and emigrate.”

The beatification process of Fr. Ragheed Ganni is under way. He would be the first in the Chaldean Church to be named “blessed” and open the way so other Iraqi Christians who gave their lives for the faith are also heard.