Prayers and fasting are being held in the Monastery of Saint Moses the Ethiopian in Syria for kidnapped Jesuit Father 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 a 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.”
The head of the Syrian Catholic Rite monastic community, Fr. Jacques Mourad, spoke with Fides News Agency on the day of prayer and fasting. The abduction of Fr. Dall’Oglio has deeply affected the community which was re-founded by the Jesuit priest in 1982. The monastery currently houses 10 monks.
“On 27 August, the eve of the Feast of St. Moses the Ethiopian, annual celebration for our community and our monastery, we monks live a special day of fasting, meditation and prayer, also attended by faithful Christians and Muslims,” Fr. Mourad said.
“We will offer our prayer in particular to ask God for the protection and liberation of our confrere, Fr. Paolo. We do not know who kidnapped him and we have no news of him. We live these hours with sadness and trepidation, we are concerned but live in hope. We ask all the faithful throughout the world to join our fasting and our prayer, and we launch an appeal for his release.”
The Syrian Catholic priest also called for peace in his beloved Syria which he said was “torn by war”. Fr. Mourad expressed his hope that dialogue may begin as well as an “era of reconciliation for the Syrian people.”