“…No-one who knew Frans van der Lugt, the Dutch Jesuit priest murdered in Syria, was surprised by his refusal to leave the besieged city of Homs. He had spent almost 50 years in Syria and had been in Homs since the siege began more than two years ago…” ~ Daniel Silas Adamson. You can read the rest of Adamson’s story here. The New York Times remembered him here.
In an appeal (9th April 2014) to end violence in Homs and the rest of Syria, Pope Francis remembered Father van der Lugt:
“…Last Monday in Homs, Syria, the Rev. Fr. Frans van der Lugt was assassinated, a Dutch Jesuit brother of mine, 75 years old, who arrived in Syria about 50 years ago; he always did good to all, with gratitude and love, and therefore he was loved and respected by Christians and Muslims. His brutal murder has filled me with deep pain and it made me think of a lot of people still suffering and dying in that tormented country, my beloved Syria, already too long in the throes of a bloody conflict, which continues to reap death and destruction. I also think of the many people abducted, both Christians and Muslims, in Syria and in other countries as well, among which are bishops and priests…”
It reminded me of Cistercian monks of Tibhirine in Algeria. Their story was told in a book The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love and Terror in Algeria by John W. Kiser, and the powerful, very moving film: Of God’s and Men – more here, here and here. Like Frans van der Lugt they co-existed lovingly and peacefully amongst Muslims, as indeed was the case. "Fourteen centuries of common life between Christians and Muslims is not something to be cast aside lightly." ~ Paolo dall Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest who also spent his life in Syria and has not been seen or heard of since he was kidnapped by Islamist rebels in Raqqa in July 2013.