Professor Shares E-Mails
From Father Ragheed
ROME, JUNE 13, 2007 (Zenit.org ).- "The situation here is
worse than hell," Father Ragheed Ganni wrote to a former professor
the day before he and three deacons were shot after Sunday Mass
in Mosul, Iraq.
Father Robert Christian, a theology professor at the Pontifical
University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum, in Rome, spoke
at the requiem Mass held in that school on Tuesday. There, Father
Ganni had studied theology and ecumenism.
On June 3, Father Ganni and three deacons, Basman Yousef Daoud,
Ghasan Bidawid and Wadid Hanna, were killed in front of the Church
of the Holy Spirit.
Father Christian began his homily, saying: "On Saturday,
June 2, I received an e-mail from Mosul. In part it read: 'The
situation here is worse than hell, and my church has been attacked
a few more times since we last met. Last week, two guards in it
were wounded after an attack. We shall meet in the near future
and have a chat about all these events. God bless, Ragheed.'"
Father Christian continued: "The patriarch of the Chaldeans
called them martyrs. And martyrs, who conform closely to the passion
and death of Jesus Christ, have been revered since Christian antiquity
Father Christian called a hell that which "those left behind
experiencing: Ragheed's family and friends; the flock he pastured;
his Chaldean Church, other Christians, and yes, Muslims, too, trapped
in the senseless vortex of blind hatred and violence that is daily
life in Iraq."
"Ragheed could have fled," Father Christian continued. "As
far as I know, he came to Italy three times after he returned to
Mosul upon finishing his licentiate in ecumenism at the Angelicum.
"But Ragheed had a strong sense of his priestly duty to be
an icon of the Good Shepherd for his people."
Father Christian also read a message he received from Father Ganni
It read: "Dear Father Christian, How are you? I'm really
happy to get your message, and to know that there are people who
still think of and pray for my country.
"The situation, as you can follow in the news, is dreadful.
Christians are suffering twice, first because of the situation,
second because of their religion.
"The Pope's speech lit a fire in the city. A Syrian Orthodox
priest was beheaded; my parish church was attacked five times.
I was threatened even before that priest was kidnapped, but I was
very careful about moving around. I postponed my vacation twice
because I couldn't leave the city under such conditions.
"I was planning to travel to Europe on Sept. 18, but I moved
it to Oct. 4. Then I had to change the date to Nov. 1.
"Ramadan was a disaster for us in Mosul. Hundreds of Christian
families fled outside the city -- including my family and uncles.
About 30 people left all their properties and fled, having been
"It is not easy but the grace of the Lord gives support and
strength. We face death every day here."
These words show, Father Christian said, that Father Ganni "knew
he was facing the threat of death for his faith. But he also knew
that staying there was his duty, giving courageous witness to our
faith in the resurrected Lord."
The professor continued: "We are used to teaching future
leaders of the Church. When we hear about one of our former students
becoming a bishop, we rejoice. But having taught a martyr is something
else entirely. And sometimes we professors learn from our students.
"The emotions are strong: sadness, pain, anger and the feeling
"However, there is the awareness that we are before a person
who was prepared to pay the supreme price; a person who wanted
to live and die heroically; a person ready to shed his blood for
the life of the faithful. This awareness humbles us."
Body and blood
Father Christian explained the source of Father Ganni's
fortitude: "The strength of Father Ragheed was the Eucharist,
and in his homilies he taught the faithful that the body and blood
of Jesus, who was sacrificed and resurrected, strengthened the
union among the members of the mystical body of Christ.
"May the Eucharist give us the courage to live and die like
"Giving into the temptation of revenge does not honor Father
Ragheed, but rather promoting peace, dialogue, and constructing
or building a civilization of love."
On Sunday, another requiem Mass was celebrated by Father Joseph
Chedid in the Church of St. Roukoz of the Antonine Maronite order
In his homily, Father Chedid, an Antonine priest and friend of
Father Ragheed, spoke about the "souls of the martyrs whose
blood was shed to witness to the word of God."
He asked the faithful to pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for
the Iraqi people, and especially for Christians, to remove the "dark
clouds hanging over them during the dreadful situation they are
(Source: Zenit News)