It is with sadness that I recently came across some footage on the Internet of a Catholic priest being beheaded in Syria. He was murdered alongside two other men by a mob of men with a large crowd of men and young boys watching on in great excitement. As the executions were carried out the crowd would all chant in a sickening ritualistic manner, crowding round the victims with phones and other recording equipment.
A more detailed story, including access to the footage, can be found on the Catholic Online website. This well established website decided to allow access to the footage (to over 18s only) to show the world that people are still being murdered on account of their faith.
Many people believe that Christian martyrdom is a thing of the distant past. That is a myth. Christian martyrdom is very much alive in our world with arguably more Christians dying for their faith than ever before.
Let us pray that our Lord will reward them for their great faith and sacrifice. Let us pray for those who live under the threat of violence and death for their faith. And let us pray for those who commit these crimes, that they may turn away from violence to love.
Since this article was published there has been increasing uncertainty as to the cause of the priest's death in Syria. While it is accepted by a wide number of people, including the Vatican, that a priest was murdered the method of execution is unclear. There have been reports of a shooting while others still report a beheading.