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A new Jesuit martyr in Syria, made YouTube appeal

News this morning from the Jesuit curia in Rome says that the Rev. Frans van der Lugt, a 75-year-old Jesuit who refused to leave Syria so that he could remain to work with the poor and refugees from the civil war, has been killed.

There is still no official word on another Jesuit in Syria, Italian Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, who was kidnapped months ago and is feared dead.

According to Catholic News Service, the Jesuits received an email on Monday, April 7, reporting that van der Lugt was beaten by armed men and dragged in front of the Jesuit residence in Homs and killed with two gunshots to the head.

Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt, who had worked in Syria since 1966, declined suggestions to leave because he wanted to help Syria’s suffering civilians — “Christians and Muslims — anyone in need,” said Father Giuseppe Bellucci, head of the Jesuits’ press office…

…Father Van der Lugt became known around the world after appealing for aid for the people of the besieged city of Homs in a video posted on YouTube in late January.

That video is below, with a translation here by Vatican Insider, as the priest speaks in a grainy video from what appears to be an altar. He laughs at one point when asked about leaving, underscoring his determination:

“Christians and Muslims are going through a difficult and painful time and we are faced with many problems. The greatest of these is hunger,” Fr. Frans states. “People have nothing to eat. There is nothing more painful than watching mothers searching for food for their children in the streets.”

Medical treatment is another big problem, the Jesuit leader goes on to say. “There are so many people here that need operations and or specialist medical treatment but have to wait a long time, and are forced to go through immense suffering.”

At one point, the person filming Fr. Frans asks him: “Do you think the international community will do something while we die of hunger here? Or will it stay silent?” Fr. Frans responds: “Given these conditions it is impossible for the international community and us not to do something together.” “I will not accept that we die of hunger. I do not accept that we drown in the sea of hunger, letting the waves of death drag us under,” the Jesuit goes on to say. “We love life, we want to live. And we do not want to sink in a sea of pain and suffering,” he said, concluding his message.

David Gibson

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.


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