Catholic Priest Shot, Not Beheaded

Authorities are now saying that Franciscan Father Francois Murad, a Catholic priest who was killed by al-Qaeda linked extremists, was not beheaded as originally reported, but was actually shot while in the process of defending nuns at a monastery. is reporting that a representative of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land says that Fr. Murad, 49, was “killed by eight bullets” at St. Anthony’s Monastery in Ghassanieh in northern Syria on June 23. His body was recovered on the same day and buried in the nearby village of Knayeh.

The nuns were moved to a more secure location.

Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who heads the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land from Jerusalem, said Fr. Murad left his own monastery in Ghassanieh after it was bombed and moved into St. Anthony’s, which was in the same village, for safety and to support the nuns who were still there. On Saturday, June 23, rebels attacked the monastery.

“Islamists attacked the monastery, ransacking it and destroying everything,” Pizzaballa said in an earlier statement. “When Father Francois tried to resist, defending the nuns, rebels shot him.”

Earlier reports claimed that Murad was one of three men who were beheaded by rebels in a graphic online video. Representatives of the Franciscan Custody say they do not know who the men were in the video, or if any of them were Christians or clergy.

The Vatican cited local sources as saying Fr. Murad’s killers were believed to be members of the al-Nusra Front, a group linked to al-Qaeda.

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