The Vatican has confirmed the death of Franciscan Father Francois Murad, who was murdered along with two others on Sunday, in Edlib, northern Syria.
“According to the Vatican's press release,” writes the NY Daily News, “Murad traveled to the area after becoming an ordained priest to help construct a coenobitic monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh.”
Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, overseer for the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, told the Vatican News Agency that “Murad had taken refuge in the convent after it became clear that he was not safe on the grounds of the hermitage he was constructing.” The 49-year-old priest was allegedly taken from the convent on Sunday, his Sabbath. The NY Daily News writes that “local sources” had informed the Vatican that Murad’s convent was “ambushed by militants linked to the jihadi group, Jabhat al-Nusra.”
Murad then, along with at least three others, had his hands tied, was put on his knees, and was beheaded with what appears to be a regular kitchen butcher’s knife. His head was placed back on his body afterward, as dozens of civilians look on, cheering, filming, and trying to get as close to the new corpses as they could.
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Apparently, the water had been boiling for some time prior to the actual murder. "Lately, father Murad sent me some messages that clearly showed how conscious he was of living in a dangerous situation, and offered his life for peace in Syria and around the world," Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic Archeparchy in Hassaké-Nisibis says.
Catholic Online has posted a warning to all of those within the faith:
This should make it clear to Christians around the world what jihadists are about. Make no mistake. Catholics and [other] Christians around the globe are under dire threat, particularly from the spread of militant Islam. Until the threat is recognized and taken seriously, martyrdoms like this will continue.
"Let us pray," says Pizzaballa, "so that this absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can go back to living a normal life. Unfortunately Syria has now become a battleground not only between Syrian forces, but also between Arab countries and the international community."