Fr. Victor Assouad, SJ, provincial of the Middle East province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) expressed his grief on the kidnapping of fellow Jesuit priest, Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio.
Fr. Dall’Oglio, an Italian priest who has worked in Syria for the past 30 years, was kidnapped in July by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, a militant rebel group that has ties to Al-Qaeda. During last week’s Mass on the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Pope Francis expressed his concern for Fr. Dall’Oglio during his homily, saying that he was “thinking of our brother in Syria.”
In his statement, Fr. Assouad said that as of yet, contact with Fr. Paolo or his captors has proven impossible to establish at the moment. The Jesuit priest expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Jesuits to all who are assisting in locating Fr. Dall’Oglio. [The Society of Jesus] eagerly hope that this ordeal will come to an end soon, so that Fr. Paolo can be reunited with his companions as soon as possible,” Fr. Assouad stated.
The Jesuit provincial also expressed concern for Dutch Jesuit Fr. Frans van der Lugt who along with several companions are living in a Jesuit residence in the city of Homs, which has been the victim of bombings by the current Syrian regime. He expressed the Society’s desire “that no effort be spared to protect his life as well as that of all his companions.”
Concluding his statement, Fr. Assouad affirmed the Society of Jesus in the Middle East’s solidarity with the people of Syria who are suffering from the conflict, while renewing its call in favor “of peace and reconciliation in Syria.”