Friday, August 16, 2013

Jesuit Priest, Paolo Dall'Oglio - Another Casualty of Syrian War

Father Paolo Dall'Oglio killed by Al-Qaeda-linked rebels
 photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
(Note 1/13/14: Since this blog entry was written, there has been news that Father Paolo may be alive.)

The news report is stark: "Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria have killed an Italian Jesuit priest who disappeared in the east of the country late last month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said."

Father Paolo, a 59-year old Italian priest, who supported the rebels against the Assad regime, tried to negotiate the release of some hostages when he vanished last July 29. The priest had served for 30 years at the Deir Mar Musa 6th century monastery. He worked for a peaceful transition to democracy in Syria and endorsed the rebels as the Assad regime grew more repressive. The Assad regime expelled him from Syria. Father Paolo was awarded the Peace Prize of Lombardy in 2012.

The priest was walking in Raqqa when he was kidnapped by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. He was missing for two weeks until human rights sources reported that he had been executed.

According to Al-Monitor Father Paolo had said:
“Our hearts and souls shiver at the barbaric assault that President Bashar al-Assad and his army have led on Syria, its landmarks, heritage and relics. Why do you grieve when shells hit the Umayyad Mosque? Where’s the problem? We have the old maps and plans; and we will rebuild and restore it once the regime falls. The most important thing is that the dictator leaves; the rest is easy.” 

He also said after being expelled from Syria by the Assad regime: "I am not leaving Syria. This is just my corpse that is leaving Syria. I remain one hundred percent in Syria."

Other priests have suffered in Syria. Washington Post reported that a Christian bishop fled northern Syrian to escape Syria's secret police. In June, the Franciscan Father Francois Murad was beheaded by Al Qaeda sympathizers in the northwestern city of Edlib. In June a Syrian Orthodox and a Greek Orthodox bishop were kidnapped and are still held captive.

About 500,000 Syrian Christians have left Syria since the Syrian War began. Before this exodus, Syria had a 9-10% Christian population. Syria's population is around 23 million.

ADDENDUM - Catholic News Agency released the news on October 10, 2013 that Father Paolo is alive - read on Report: Kidnapped Jesuit priest alive in Syria.
For more information, read:

Paolo Dall'Oglio Reported Dead
Syria:Hopes for Jesuit Priest Paolo Dall'Oglio Fade as Death Reported
The mysterious kidnapping of Jesuit Father Paolo Dall'Oglio
Father Paolo: The 'Icon of the Syrian Revolution'
Wikipedia writeup of Paolo Dall'Oglio
Ku Leuven -Meeting With Paolo Dall'Oglio
The Wall Street Journal - Prayers for an intrepid priest missing in Syria
Christians and Muslims alike pray for Jesuit priest...
 YouTube video of Father Paolo "Please take care of Syria"

Wikipedia writeup on Religion in Syria
Christians are in the crosshairs of bloody Muslim wars in Mideast

Read also my other blog entries about Syria:
 All for now,
tags: Syria, Syrian, war, revolution, Paolo Dall'Oglio, Jesuit priest, Christianity, religion, Italian

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