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Archb. Zenari: Fr. Dall'Oglio's abduction in Syria is part of a "Via Crucis" of kidnappings

(Vatican Radio) Al Quaeda-linked fighters in Syria have reportedly abducted an Italian priest who is known for his outspoken views against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Reporters in Syria claim that Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio – who has often expressed his opinion championing the anti-government uprising on Vatican Radio – was kidnapped on Monday in the rebel-held Eastern city of Raqqa.

Speaking to Vatican Radio, the Vatican’s nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari says he has no official confirmation of Dall’Oglio’s abduction. He says he didn’t even know the priest, who is a well-known advocate of Christian/Muslim dialogue, was in Syria at the time.

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Archbishop Zenari says that every day that goes by, this conflict is like a bundle of wool that gets more and more tangled. He says the reported kidnapping is a sad event and is part of a continuing “via crucis” of kidnappings. Zenari recalls the abduction of two orthodox bishops who were kidnapped three months ago, of two priests – one Catholic the other Orthodox – and of the hundreds and hundreds of kidnappings of both Syrians and foreigners, some for political reasons, others for economic gain. This of the abductions – he says – “is a painful wound inflicted on the Syrian nation and its people”.

Regarding the figure and the personality of Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio, Archbishop Zenari says Dall’Oglio’s work to promote Christian/Muslim dialogue has been fruitful. He also speaks of what he calls the “ beautiful intuition that led him to found the Monastic Community of Deir Mar Musa that attracted people, especially young people, from all over the world”. Zenari describes the priest as a person who really loves Syria, and who in recent times has expressed personal opinions regarding the situation that not everyone agrees with. But, Archbishop Zenari underlines: Dall’Oglio is a good Jesuit priest and a very capable man.

Archbishop Zenari never tires of saying that those who are suffering the most from the Syrian conflict are the poor. According to UN statistics some 5.000 people are killed every month; every day about 6000 people are forced to flee their homes. Not to mention the lack of work and the difficulties that derives from that. We personally touch with hand - Zenari says – what it means to live in a civil war context which “brings death and destruction but is also a factory that produces innumerable miseries”. And he appeals to the International Community to help Syria to break this cycle of violence, death, misery and kidnappings.