“In this book we relate what they attempted to wipe out for ever”

The international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has presented a book in Rome to commemorate the life of Father Ragheed Ganni, 10 years after his assassination.

Rome/Königstein, 06.06.2017 – 10 years after the death of Father Ragheed Ganni, the Iraqi priest assassinated in Mosul on 3 June 2007, the international Catholic foundation ACN has presented a book on his life, written by another Catholic priest and friend of his, Father Rebwar Audish Basa. The book launch in his honour took place in the offices of the Italian section of ACN in Rome (Piazza San Calisto 16) last Thursday 1st June at 11 a.m.

The book, entitled “Un sacerdote católico en el Estado islámico. La historia del Padre Ragheed Ganni” (A Catholic priest in the Islamic State. The story of Father Ragheed Ganni) will include his hitherto unpublished writings and testimonies. “The marvellous witness of faith of Father Ragheed deserves to be kept present in the memory of the Church”, states the preface to the book, written by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, who knew Father Ragheed personally during his time as apostolic nuncio in Iraq. It was a terrifying experience, he said, to serve God “in an Iraq where the violence and terrorism was daily robbing tens of human beings of their lives”.

As secretary to Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, then Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, and as parish priest of the Church of the Holy Spirit, Father Ganni was repeatedly confronted with the cruelty of the Islamist attacks and was a witness to the systematic violence aimed at eliminating the Christians from Iraq. In 2004 he miraculously survived an assassination attempt aimed at the Archbishop of Mosul. There followed many attacks on his church and many threats against him personally. Until finally, on 3 June 2007 his killer confronted him: “I told you to close down the church, why have you not closed it?”, said the assassin. “I cannot shut the house of God”, said the priest, before being murdered in a hail of bullets.

Iraq has continued ever since to be a country of persecution, and the Islamist barbarism finally reached its peak with the invasion by ISIS of the towns and villages of the Niniveh plains in 2014. Nor did this persecution even spare the tomb of the martyred priest, in his native village of Karamles, which was destroyed and desecrated by the Islamic fundamentalists.

An ACN delegation, which went out to visit the Christian villages on the Niniveh plains following their liberation from ISIS, found his tombstone, on which the summary of the life of Father Ragheed was written, smashed in pieces. “It seems as though the terrorists of ISIS didn’t like what was written there”, writes Father Rebwar Basa. “In this book we relate what they attempted to wipe out for ever.”

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