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CNN exclusive: Catholic monk not beheaded by Syrian rebels, friar says

There is much news regarding the story of a Franciscan priest being beheaded by Muslims in Syria on June 23.

It appears the story may not have been quite accurate. I had originally heard via
Asia News that the beheading report may have been mistaken. Now, according to this July 2 CNN interview with a “Custody of the Holy Land” Franciscan, poor Father Maurad was killed on June 23, but it appears he was shot by guerrillas, not beheaded. As I think you know, the Franciscans at “Custody of the Holy Land” would be in a position to give accurate information about such an occurence.

A video circulated of three people being beheaded by Islamists (which I refused to watch), and supposedly Father Maurad was one of them, now this appears not to be the case. The Muslims gathered for the beheading, and some filmed and photographed it as if it were a sporting event.

Meanwhile, today's Vatican prepares to 'canonize' John Paul II who famously said on March 21, 2000: "
May St. John the Baptist protect Islam". Galloping Madness. Oremus!


11:58 AM ET
CNN exclusive: Catholic monk not beheaded by Syrian rebels, friar says
By Mohammed Jamjoom and Daniel Burke, CNN
[story contains video interview]

Jerusalem (CNN) – A Catholic monk was not among the men beheaded in a gruesome video circulating online, a friar who oversees Franciscans in the Middle East told CNN in an exclusive interview.

Father Fran
ҫois Mourad, a Syrian, was shot eight times and killed June 23 at a Catholic monastery in Gassanieh, said Friar Pierbattista Pizzaballa, head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

Mourad was buried the same day in a nearby village, the friar said.

A nine-minute video, which appears to have been shot with a handheld device, shows three men being beheaded on a grassy hill while a crowd shouts, “Allahu Akbar!” – Arabic for God is great. It is not clear where or when the video was sho

A number of Catholic websites in the United States have posted the video online, saying that Mourad was among the three beheaded men.

“I deny this vigorously," Pizzaballa said. "He has nothing to do with this video and with (these) three poor persons."

Pizzaballa said he had seen the video, which he called “shameful.”

In a statement Friday, the Custody of the Holy Land also denied media reports that three friars had been killed in Syria recently.

Headquartered in Jerusalem, the Custody includes about 285 Franciscan friars and covers Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Pizzaballa said that Mourad sought refuge at Gassanieh because it was considered to be safe from Syria’s bloody civil war, which has claimed more than 93,000 lives, according to the United Nations.

The Vatican has not commented on the video and referred questions to Pizzaballa.

A June 25 report from Vatican Radio – the church’s official broadcast – said that Mourad was killed during a raid on the Franciscan monastery of St. Anthony of Padua in Gassanieh, a predominantly Christian village near the Turkish border.

Mourad was well-known in the region, according to the Franciscans. He completed his novitiate in Rome as a Franciscan of the Custody and moved to Syria, where he was a citizen, to live a contemplative life as a hermit. As the war wore on, Mourad sought refuge at the monastery.

Several Franciscans, four nuns and 10 Christians also lived at the monastery, which was considered safe until the raid, according to Pizzaballa.

“When (Father) Fran
ҫois tried to oppose resistance to defend the nuns and other people, the guerrillas shot him, killing him,” according the Vatican Radio report.

Most of the Gassanieh's Christian population has fled, Pizzaballa told Vatican Radio, after weeks of assaults by Syrian rebels.

“Mourad was just one of the many men and women religious putting their faith on the front line in Syria, refusing to abandon the communities they serve, Christian and Muslim," Vatican Radio said.

"They stay because they want to be a sign of hope, light and comfort to people in the midst of destruction."

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