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Jesuit priest abducted and killed in Syria

Jesuit priest Frans Van der Lugt had lived in Syria since the 1960s and remained there during the civil war "in solidarity with the people who could not leave the city."

By
JC Finley
A Syrian man looks at bodies of children laid out on the floor at a make-shift morgue in Bab al-Sebaa, a neighborhood in the restive city of Homs in Syria, on March 12, 2012. The bodies of 47 women and children were found in the Karm el-Zaytoun and al-Adawiyeh neighborhoods of the besieged Syrian city of Homs, where security forces have been fighting raging battles against armed rebels, the opposition and activists said. UPI
A Syrian man looks at bodies of children laid out on the floor at a make-shift morgue in Bab al-Sebaa, a neighborhood in the restive city of Homs in Syria, on March 12, 2012. The bodies of 47 women and children were found in the Karm el-Zaytoun and al-Adawiyeh neighborhoods of the besieged Syrian city of Homs, where security forces have been fighting raging battles against armed rebels, the opposition and activists said. UPI | License Photo

HOMS, Syria, April 7 (UPI) -- Father Frans Van der Lugt, a Jesuit priest, was abducted from the Jesuit residence in Homs and killed Monday by masked gunmen.

The 76 year-old Dutch priest had been working in Syria since the 1960s. "Despite the dangers," the Jesuit Curia in Rome said, "he had voluntarily decided to remain in the city of Homs in solidarity with the people who could not leave the city."

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Around 8 a.m. on Monday morning, masked gunmen took Fr. Frans from his former residence, beat him, and executed him "with two bullets to the head in front of the Jesuit residence in Homs," Vatican Radio reported.

Jesuit Father Frederico Lombardi, spokesman to Pope Francis, said that Fr. Frans "died as a man of peace, who with great courage in an extremely dangerous and difficult situation, wanted to remain faithful to the Syrian people to whom he had dedicated so many years of his life and spiritual service. Where people die, their faithful shepherds also die with them. In this time of great sorrow, we express our participation in prayer, but also great pride and gratitude for having had a brother so close to the most suffering in the testimony of the love of Jesus to the end."

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Fr. Frans was born in 1938 and entered the Society of Jesus in 1958. He was ordained a priest in 1971. In addition to being a priest, he was also a psychotherapist and active in fostering inter-religious dialogue.

While war raged around him, Fr. Frans used social media "to keep viewers informed about the situation in Homs, and in Syria overall, speaking out against the suffering of the Syrian people," James Martin, SJ shared Monday on his Facebook page. He posted messages, like the one below, to YouTube.

[The Jesuit Curia in Rome] [Vatican Radio]

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