Syrian rebels kill another priest

Less than two months after a priest was martyred in Syria, another one seems to have suffered the same fate. Photo: Anti-Syrian regime protesters holding Syrian revolution flags, during a demonstration in the neighborhood of Bustan Al-Qasr in Aleppo, Syria, June 28, 2013 / AP

FORT SMITH, Ark., August 15, 2013 ― Syrian rebels linked to al-Qaeda have killed another Catholic priest, according to many sources in the region.

Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit, disappeared in rebel-controlled Raqqa in late July. He was presumed to have been kidnapped. Sources in the province indicated that the clergyman was in the custody of jihadist fighters.

“Activists in the city, and who are close to Father Paolo, have confirmed that the Italian Jesuit priest and the messenger of peace Father Paolo Dall’Oglio has been killed while in the prisons of the ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Levante], where he has been held for over two weeks,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revealed in a statement.

Lama al-Atassi, secretary general for the Syrian National Front, concurred with the reports on her Facebook page, writing, “It’s with deep sorrow that I inform you that I was told by a reliable source that Father Paolo has been executed. May God have mercy on his soul.”

It remains unclear, however, whether the priest was kidnapped or intentionally met with his captors. Some press outlets report that despite his sympathy for the rebels, they may have killed him after soured negotiations with the militants.

Fr. Dall’Oglio, a vocal opponent of the Assad regime, was exiled by the government after a 2012 meeting with members of the opposition forces. He has lobbied for Pope Francis to personally intervene on behalf of the rebels, most notably through a petition. He has also published critiques of Bashar al-Assad’s government on The Huffington Post’s Italian edition.

The Vatican has not yet provided a confirmation of the 58-year-old priest’s death. When reached for comment by the National Catholic Reporter, Fr. Thomas Rosica, who assists the Vatican with its media efforts, said that there is “absolutely no confirmation” of these reports. He added that both the Vatican and the Italian government are seeking additional information.

This information comes on the heels of the story of Fr. Francois Murad, who was martyred in June by a rebel group.

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Matthew Olson

Matthew Olson is a journalist in Fort Smith, Arkansas. His primary interests are theology, Church history, and ecumenism. He enjoys the thrill of politics, and always seeks to enlighten politics with Catholic principles. He writes for The Washington Times, Ignitum Today, and other outlets.


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