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Baghdad: slain Syrian Catholic priest had prepared for worst

November 02, 2010

Father Thaer Abdal, one of two Syrian Catholic priests murdered by Islamic militants in his church on November 1, had prepared his parishioners for the worst in September after a Florida Protestant minister threatened to burn the Qur’an.

“When a team from The New York Timespulled up outside the church in early September it was clear that everyone was preparing for the worst,” journalist Stephen Farrell recounted. “Concrete bollards, razor wire and oil drums filled with cement barricaded the entrance; a mound of sand blocked the road, and a police car sat in the road outside.”

“I would like to send a message to the pastor who is in America; he lives in a society that protects humans and religious beliefs,” said Father Thaer at the time. “Why would he want to harm Christians in Iraq? This is dangerous.”

Several years ago, Father Abdal and the other slain priest, Father Waseem Sabih, were seminary students of a Syrian Catholic priest who now ministers in Michigan.

“They were promising priests, really seeking, working for peace and justice in Iraq,” said Father Safaa Habash. “They stayed, they remained with the people. They were good role models.”


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