Jesuit Priest Executed in Syria

Fr Francis Van der Lugt SJ

London’s Daily Telegraph reports here on the death of Dutch Jesuit priest Francis Van der Lugt.

A Dutch priest who had refused to leave the besieged Syrian city of Homs in solidarity with its residents, was on Monday beaten and then shot dead in his monastery by a masked gunman.

During more than three years of war, Father Francis Van der Lugt, 75, had insisted on remaining in the destroyed Old City of Homs, risking starvation and near constant shellfire, until every last civilian could be evacuated from the district.

The Jesuit priest – of the same order as the Pope – had helped to keep the plight of the Old City’s residents in the international spotlight by writing letters to his church order in Holland, and posting video messages from inside his monastery in the besieged Bustan al-Diwan district.

It was in this monastery, that, after more than four decades of living in Syria, Father Van der Lugt was murdered.

Fr Francis stayed with the people of the besieged town of Homs as they faced persecution, violence and starvation. Once again it is a Catholic priest who stands in the gap between sanity and insanity, the irrational rage and violence and peaceful, rational and civilized behavior.

While the world ignores the suffering of Christians in Syria, a faithful Catholic priest holds out to the end and is murdered by some of the very people he has loved and ministered to for forty years. Here was a saint in the making, and we are witness to another modern martyrdom.

Take heart if you are reading and be encouraged. The battle rages and cheerful warriors of peace are needed.

Read the whole report here.