Reported Beheading of Syrian Priest Boosts Fear for Christians’ Safety

Claims that a Catholic priest has been beheaded by jihadist rebels in Syria are drawing new attention to the plight of Syrian Christians, caught in the middle of a brutal struggle and said by campaigners to face an existential threat.

Last week the Vatican reported that a Catholic priest, Francois Murad, had been killed by militants who attacked a monastery in northern Syria on Sunday, June 23. Citing a report by the Franciscan “Custodian of the Holy Land,” Vatican press services initially reported that the priest had been shot and killed while trying to defend nuns and others sheltering at the monastery of St. Anthony.

A subsequent Vatican Radio report said the circumstances of Murad’s death were “not fully understood,” and added that those who attacked the monastery were reported to be “militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusrah.”

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