06 June, 2007

Ragheed Ghanni, RIP

It is our duty not to despair. God will hear our prayers for peace in Iraq.
The Chaldean Catholic Church, which celebrates even today the sacred rites of Christianity in Jesus' language (Aramaic), has dwelled in Mesopotamia since before Islam gleamed in Mohammed's eye. At one point they were evangelizing China, but Islam interfered, and the Chaldeans have been in decline ever since. Islam supposedly extends tolerance to the Chaldeans, but they have suffered ever since the Arabs conquered Mesopotamia.

There are two major groups of Christians in Iraq, the Assyrian Church of the East (frequently labeled the Nestorian Church) and the Chaldean Catholic Church. The latter group is in communion with Rome. The Assyrians have become very close to Rome in recent decades, most notably signing an agreement of a common Christology, which for all intents and purposes means that the one obstacle remaining to full communion with Rome is working out the role of the papacy. They had a meeting to discuss this at the seminary I attended ten years ago, and I believe they're still discussing it now. These things take a long time. I remember the Assyrian seminarians as being quiet, prayerful types. They had a dispensation to receive communion at the seminary. One of them showed me his prayer book once; it was written with Arabic characters but I think he said it was a different language. Except for their occasional attendance at our Masses, I never prayed with them.

All that aside, both churches have suffered during the recent unpleasantness in Iraq, and www.chiesa reports that Father Ragheed Ghanni of the Chaldean Catholic Church has been recently martyred in Mosul, along with four subdeacons. Based on the report, Fr. Ragheed strikes me much as those two quiet, admirable men I met ten years ago. He was my age, and now he is in eternity with God.

Fr. Ragheed Ghanni, pray for us!

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