The Jesuits of the Middle East have issued a statement expressing their deep worry over the fate of two priests working in northern Syria. Provincial Fr Victor Assouad SJ, said that Italian Fr Paolo Dall'Oglio has been missing in northern Syria for a week, and has possibly been kidnapped by jihadist groups operating in the area. He said that another confere, Father Frans van der Lugt, and the people he is living with, are trapped in the Jesuit residence in Boustan Diwan, in the centre 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 said everyone is doing their best to find him Fr Paolo, and he hopes "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, Fr Victor said no effort will 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, 3 August, Cardinal Prefect Leonardo Sandri, on behalf of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, expressed in a statement their "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''.
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