It’s horrific, as is the situation so many Christians find themselves in in Syria. A lot of the news stories — including that Daily Mail story — are a mess on details though. Look for a Nina Shea post here shortly. . . . Meanwhile, from the Franciscans:
On Sunday the 23rd of June, the sad news came from Syria: Father François Mourad was killed in the Custody’s monastery, where he had come to seek refuge and offer his assistance. The conditions of his death are not clear. He was apparently alone in the monastery when it was completely pillaged.
Father François was well known in this region to which he retired several years ago to live as a hermit. After completing his novitiate in Rome as a Franciscan of the Custody, he heard a more urgent call from the Lord to lead a contemplative life. He followed this call in Syria, of which he as a citizen. His relationship with the Custody remained strong and he came regularly to one of its monasteries or another to help by replacing an absent friar. “He was always a bit ‘one of us’,” in the words of the Father Custos…
…The death of Father François is a terrible blow for all the friars. Even so, they continue to be a great spiritual comfort to the people they serve. “War has a negative impact everywhere and on everyone, but it has also brought Christians of all rites closer together for mutual aid and prayer in common.” In some villages of the Orontes region, where the Franciscans are the only clergy who remain, they celebrate the sacraments for all the rites. In other places, they organize times of prayer that everyone attends.
“Our role,” says a friar living in the Orontes region “is to be God’s fools who continue to bring hope to everyone who thinks that there is no future, that there is no hope, no charity.”