Reports are coming out of Syria that another Christian leader has been kidnapped. The early reports are that Fr. Paolo dall’Oglio was kidnapped by al-Qaeda linked militants. Dall’Oglio was expelled from Syria last month due to his efforts to assist victims of the violence. He has served in Syria for decades and was well-respected by many.
7/30/2013 Syria (AsiaNews) – Shock, surprise and caution abound in the Vatican Nunciature in Damascus following reports – yet to be confirmed – of the kidnapping of the Jesuit Fr. Paolo dall’Oglio.
“Usually, when he is in Syria, we speak over the phone – Nuncio Msgr. Mario Zenari tells AsiaNews. “So far I haven’t heard from him at all. I only learned the news this morning and I am shocked. We will have to wait to see if it is true” .
The Italian Foreign Ministry is also checking the news.
According to some agencies, Fr. Paolo entered Syria through the north, in an area controlled by the rebels and was kidnapped in Raqqa, by fundamentalist groups, part of the group for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, enemies of Assad.
“I’m surprised – adds the nuncio – that this happened to him. He is known in those areas, and enjoys some respect in rebel held areas.”
Since 1982, the Roman born Jesuit of 58 has worked for the restoration of Catholic monastery Mar Musa (Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian), in the desert north of the Syrian capital, establishing a monastic community open to dialogue with Islam . At the outbreak of the so-called “Arab Spring” in Damascus, Fr. Dall’Oglio took a position that was critical of the Assad regime and so, in 2011, Damascus decreed his expulsion, which took place later in 2012. Since leaving the Country, Fr. Dall’Oglio has often returned to the north controlled by the Syrian rebels.