(JNS.org) Rebels linked to Al-Qaeda have abducted Italian Jesuit Priest Paolo Dall’Oglio in the Syrian rebel-held city of Raqqa, Vatican Radio reported.
Father Dall’Oglio is a well-known advocate of Christian-Muslim dialogue and a vocal critic of the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is in the midst of the Syrian civil war with rebel forces.
The Vatican’s envoy to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari, told Vatican Radio that he has no official confirmation of Dall’Oglio’s abduction.
According to Zenari, Father Dall’Oglio is well respected in the region and has worked for years to restore Deir Mar Musa or Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian, an ancient Christian monastery located 80 kilometers north of Damascus, into a modern center for Muslim-Christian interfaith dialogue.
“He is truly a man of virtue, a Jesuit of great talent and a person who loves Syria,” Zenari said.
Father Dall’Oglio is the latest Christian leader facing violence in Syria. In April, two Christian bishops, one Catholic and the other Orthodox, were abducted in northern Syria. Meanwhile, in early July, Catholic priest Francois Murad was publicly beheaded by Syrian terrorists. Zenari called these continuing abductions “a painful wound inflicted on the Syrian nation and its people.”