Case of Assassinated Priest, Deacons Brought Before Vatican

ICC Note: Christians in Iraq have left the country in three waves: following the 2003 invasion, the 2010 church bombing in Baghdad, and in 2014 due to the rise of ISIS. Christians from Mosul, however, had begun leaving the city in 2007 following the assassination of a priest and 3 deacons. This, combined with ISIS’s takeover of the city just a few years later, is why Christians from Mosul refuse to return home. Meanwhile, the Vatican has opened the canonization of those who were martyred in 2007.        

05/16/2018 Iraq (AINA) –  The Vatican has formally opened the canonization cause of Iraqi Chaldean Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni and three deacons who were gunned down in Mosul in 2007.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, confirmed in a March 1 letter released on Monday that the Vatican had no objection to starting the process of canonization of Father Ganni and Deacons Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho and Gassan Isam Bidawid.

A group of armed Islamist fighters shot dead the four men near the Chaldean Holy Spirit church where Father Ganni was parish priest. He had just celebrated Mass there on Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost, on June 3, 2007.

As they were walking away from the church, the armed men stopped them, warned Father Ganni to close the church and demanded to know why he had not done so.

Father Ganni replied: “How can I close the house of God?” The gunmen ordered Deacon Isho’s wife to flee, demanded that the four men convert to Islam and when they refused, took their lives. The car was then rigged with explosives to prevent the bodies being recovered, but a bomb disposal team managed to defuse the devices, allowing the corpses to be buried.

Thousands of people attended the funeral of the four men in nearby Karemlash the following day.

“The example and witness of Father Ragheed inspired me from the moment I heard of his martyrdom, one of so many noble martyrs of the great new persecution in the Middle East,” said Father Benedict Kiely, founder of the charity for persecuted Christians, Nasarean.org.

By chance, both Father Kiely and I came across Father Ganni’s tomb when we visited Karemlash last year. ISIS had ransacked Karemlash, Father Ganni’s hometown, during their occupation from 2014-2016. They vandalized Father Ganni’s tombstone but left his resting place untouched.

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For interviews with Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.

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