|Reverend Paolo Dall'Oglio.|
(Photo courtesy of VOMC/Flickr /veDro - l'Italia al futuro)
Dall’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest, was last heard from on Monday, July 29th. Activists in the region speculate he may have been kidnapped by Syrian rebel forces linked to al-Qaeda.
Rev. Paolo Dall'Oglio spent three decades in Syria before the government deported him last year for helping victims of President Bashar al-Assad's military crackdown, according to Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) source, Assist News Service. He re-entered the country in late July.
A source close to Dall’Oglio got an e-mail from him on July 26. The reverend wrote in the e-mail that he would be travelling to assist “difficult mediation,” according to the Religion News Service. The Christian Post says the source suggested, “It is possible the priest purposely went off the grid in Raqqa to help mediate the release of two hostages being held by Islamic rebels.”
The reverend's disappearance comes three months after the kidnapping of the Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox archbishops of Aleppo in April. According to VOMC, these reflect the dangers Christians are still facing in this war-torn country.
Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church and Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church were kidnapped near the village of Kafr Dael on April 22nd while returning from the Turkish border on a humanitarian relief trip. The abduction happened on the road to Aleppo from the rebel-held Bab al Hawa Province, where gunmen intercepted their vehicle and killed the driver.
The fate of both clergymen is still unknown.
According to the United Nations, Syrian Christians have been vulnerable since the beginning of the civil war in 2011 which has left more than 100,000 people dead. Reportedly hundreds of believers have been kidnapped since hostilities began in 2011, and thousands more have fled the country. Many have crossed over into Lebanon or Turkey where they await legal or illegal means to reach Europe and obtain political asylum.
VOMC asks for prayer that the Lord would be a shield to the multitudes of innocent people who are caught in the cross fire between the forces of good and evil. Ask for His divine protection and strength to be upon all of His faithful servants who are boldly taking a stand for righteousness.