ASIA/SYRIA - The Jesuits of the Middle East: "Deep concern" for Fr. Dall'Oglio and Fr. Frans van der Lugt

Monday, 5 August 2013

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - The Jesuits of the Middle East, with a statement sent to Fides Agency and signed by the Provincial Fr. Victor Assouad SJ, expressed "deep worry" about the fate of some of their confreres in the Syrian conflict. Along with Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio - the Roman Jesuit who has been missing in northern Syria for a week, perhaps kidnapped by jihadist groups operating in the area - the Provincial Assouad also refers to the plight suffered by Father Frans van der Lugt and the people he is living with, in the Jesuit residence in Boustan Diwan, in the center of the city of Homs, where according to Unicef sources 400 thousand civilians - almost all of them women, children and the elderly – have been left stranded and isolated due to the new government army offensive against rebel militias. Fr.Victor thanks all those who care about the fate of Dall'Oglio and also "the personalities and authorities who are doing their best to find him", hoping that "this ordeal will come to an end soon" so that Fr. Paolo can be reunited with his companions as soon as possible. With regards to the guests of the Jesuits’ residence in Homs, the Provincial of the Jesuits of the Middle East expresses his desire that no effort be spared to protect their lives. The Jesuits are committed to pursuing their humanitarian action among all and renew the intention to "work for peace and reconciliation in Syria".
On Saturday, July 3rd Cardinal Prefect Leonardo Sandri, on behalf of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, expressed in a statement "closeness in prayer" to the Superior General and to all the Religious of the Society of Jesus because of the uncertainty about the fate of Fr . Dall'Oglio. In the message, Cardinal Sandri also recalled "the absolute silence that weighs on the fate of two bishops and two priests kidnapped months ago, like many others, Syrian and foreigners, in the same painful condition''. On July 3, also the Syrian National Coalition (CNS), the main platform of the anti-Assad opposition, had said that it was "deeply concerned" about the fate of the Jesuit Dall'Oglio. The re-founding of the ancient Syrian monastery of Deir Mar Musa, a great inspirer of initiatives of Muslim-Christian dialogue, which was declared "persona non grata" by the Syrian government, arrived on Saturday, July 27 in the city of Raqqa - controlled by the rebels - and from there, according to local sources had left for an unknown location where he had an appointment with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and the East, the entity that depends on the al-Nusra Front, the main jihadist force of the Syrian insurgency.
According to the same sources, the Jesuit wanted to deal with the jihadists with regards to the release of some hostages and a truce in the on-going fighting between Islamist militias and Kurdish militias. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 05/08/2013).