Three weeks ago yesterday a 35-year-old Chaldean priest, Fr. Ragheed Ganni, was martyred in Mosul, an ancient city with historic christian roots in northern Iraq. Once numbering between 1.5 and 2 million, Iraq's Assyrian Christians have declined dramatically in numbers since 2003 to only around 500,000, most apparently having fled the country. Patrick Buchanan reports on The Martyr of Mosul. Sandro Magister has further details on this young servant of Christ and his courageous dedication to his parishioners: The Last Mass of Father Ragheed, a Martyr of the Chaldean Church.
The notoriously truculent Buchanan draws political implications from this martyrdom, holding responsible "the men who conceived this misbegotten war." Although I am sympathetic with Buchanan's point, I believe that Magister's response of gratitude is more in keeping with that of the historic church for the past two millennia:
Dearest Ragheed, together with a heart which cries in pain, you leave us your hope and your certainty. By taking you, they aimed to wipe out the hope of Iraq’s Christians. Instead, your martyrdom nourishes and gives new life to your community, to the Iraqi Church and the Church throughout the world. Thank you, Ragheed!