Famed Dutch Jesuit priest abducted, beaten, executed in Syria

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Van Der LugtBEIRUT, Lebanon- An activist Jesuit priest who spent three years living alongside besieged civilians and rebels in the Syrian city of Homs was assassinated Monday, according to the Vatican, which said he was abducted by unidentified gunmen who beat him before executing him in front of his monastery.

Father Francis Van Der Lugt, 75, a Dutch Jesuit priest, came to Syria in 1966 and eventually founded a home for children and adults with mental disabilities outside Homs, where he lived before the three-year-old civil war started. After fighting began, he relocated to the rebel-held neighborhood of Bustan al Diwan in Homs Old City, where he worked with refugees and civilians during the more than two-year-old siege by regime forces.

“I can confirm that he’s been killed,” Jan Stuyt, secretary of the Dutch Jesuit Order, told the news agency Agence France-Presse by phone.

“A man came into his house, took him outside and shot him twice in the head. In the street in front of his house,” he said, adding the priest would be buried in Syria “according to his wishes.”

His bodyguard, who’d been supplied by the mainstream rebel Free Syrian Army, was wounded in the attack. Because of Van Der Lugt’s high-profile role in condemning the Syrian regime for its blockade of Homs, some activists accused the regime of assassinating him. Islamic radicals with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria _ a rogue al Qaida group _ have been repeatedly accused of targeting clergy and churches and are also considered suspects, according to rebel officials.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Jesuit order spoke of Van Der Lugt’s dedication to sharing the suffering of the ordinary citizens he’d lived alongside for more than 40 years.

He “died as a man of peace, who with great courage in an extremely dangerous and difficult situation wanted to remain faithful to the Syrian people to whom he had dedicated so many years of his life and spiritual service,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. “Where people die, their faithful shepherds also die with them. In this time of great sorrow, we express our participation in prayer, but also great pride and gratitude for having had a brother so close to the most suffering in the testimony of the love of Jesus to the end.”

Van Der Lugt refused to leave central Homs earlier in the year as a U.N.-brokered cease-fire allowed some 1,400 starving residents to leave the area, citing his concern for those who remained behind for fear of arrest by the regime of President Bashar Assad.

“The Syrian people have given me so much, so much kindness, inspiration and everything they have. If the Syrian people are suffering now, I want to share their pain and their difficulties,” he told Agence France-Presse in an interview just before the U.N. evacuation.

“The faces of people you see in the street are weak and yellow. Their bodies are weakened and have lost their strength,” he asked. “What should we do, die of hunger?”

Syria has some of the oldest churches and monasteries in Christianity, with dozens that date back more than 1,500 years. Occasionally, Christians and their churches have been caught in the middle of an increasingly sectarian civil war that’s pitted Sunni Muslims against Syria’s other minorities, including the dominate Alawite sect, which receives substantial political and economic support from Christian communities.

In another high-profile incident, fighters for the al Qaida-linked Nusra Front took custody of a dozen Greek Orthodox nuns late last year after their monastery in the ancient city of Maaloula fell into rebel hands. Although the nuns reported being well treated after their release earlier this year, they were exchanged for regime-held prisoners.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is strongly suspected of orchestrating last year’s kidnapping of an Italian priest, Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, who’d lived in Syria for decades before being expelled by the regime for his rebel sympathies. He returned to Syria through rebel-held Aleppo and disappeared while attempting to negotiate a truce between warring rebel factions. His fate remains unknown, according to Italian authorities working on the case.

McClatchy

Photo: Dutch Father Francis Van Der Lugt, 75, shown in Homs, Syria

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27 responses to “Famed Dutch Jesuit priest abducted, beaten, executed in Syria”

  1. Constantin7 Avatar
    Constantin7

    Poor guy, he trusted that because of his age they would not hurt him. He did not know what kind of a beast he will be dealing with. He was tortured and killed only because he was a christian priest. Same story repeating itself over the last 1400 years. This one is a martyr of Jesus Christ who is with Jesus Christ right now. Poor are those who killed him they don’t know that they were tools of the devil.

    1. nagy_michael2 Avatar
      nagy_michael2

      Its hard to say anything because the animals who shot him are cowards and devil worshipers. This poor soul was trying to help and he was not asking for anything in return. i hope whoever did this spinless act will suffer tremendously.

    2. Reasonableman Avatar
      Reasonableman

      The priest always started his favorite “game” by having the young boy remove his underwear and put on loose-fitting shorts so he could fondle him more easily.Then, the Rev. Robert Van Handel would run his hands up and down the child’s body as he stretched across his lap, Walkman headphones on his ears, pretending to be asleep. The recollection appears in a 27-page “sexual history” written by Van Handel, a defrocked Franciscan cleric who is accused of molesting at least 17 boys, including his own 5-year-old nephew, local children in his boys’ choir and students at the seminary boarding school where he taught.

      if the same old story has been repeating itself for 1400 years how bout the story I just posted??

      get a grip dude stop posting bigotry, not all your fingers are the same.

  2. Constantin7 Avatar
    Constantin7

    Poor guy, he trusted that because of his age they would not hurt him. He did not know what kind of a beast he will be dealing with. He was tortured and killed only because he was a christian priest. Same story repeating itself over the last 1400 years. This one is a martyr of Jesus Christ who is with Jesus Christ right now. Poor are those who killed him they don’t know that they were tools of the devil.

    1. nagy_michael2 Avatar
      nagy_michael2

      Its hard to say anything because the animals who shot him are cowards and devil worshipers. This poor soul was trying to help and he was not asking for anything in return. i hope whoever did this spinless act will suffer tremendously.

    2. Reasonableman Avatar
      Reasonableman

      The priest always started his favorite “game” by having the young boy remove his underwear and put on loose-fitting shorts so he could fondle him more easily.Then, the Rev. Robert Van Handel would run his hands up and down the child’s body as he stretched across his lap, Walkman headphones on his ears, pretending to be asleep. The recollection appears in a 27-page “sexual history” written by Van Handel, a defrocked Franciscan cleric who is accused of molesting at least 17 boys, including his own 5-year-old nephew, local children in his boys’ choir and students at the seminary boarding school where he taught.

      if the same old story has been repeating itself for 1400 years how bout the story I just posted??

      get a grip dude stop posting bigotry, not all your fingers are the same.

  3. rossoferrari Avatar
    rossoferrari

    I want to see zabrallah helping the poor and the children in need.

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar
      5thDrawer

      Only Shiites. Maybe.

      1. dateam Avatar

        Honestly where do you get your information from? Maybe your referring to tripoli.

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar
          5thDrawer

          Yah. No help for Christians there …. especially if they are women … not even from their own impoverished church – although 6 years ago one priest was doing free ‘dinners’ on the beaches under tents there on at least a weekly basis for a while, for ANY poor who sat down. One of the Ladies I know used to buy ‘day-old’ bread to take to the orphanage or give other ‘shut-in-families’ – did it with her a couple times …. until she became one herself due to family misfortune – and her edge-of-starvation existence now is only exacerbated by the fact she’s female.

    2. dateam Avatar

      Hezbollah currently operates at least four hospitals, twelve clinics, twelve schools and two agricultural centres that provide farmers with technical assistance and training. It also has an environmental department and an extensive social assistance program. Medical care is also cheaper than in most of the country’s private hospitals and free for Hezbollah members”.[1]

      1. master09 Avatar
        master09

        The issue with that is they help their kind ONLY HA SUPPORTERS ONLY, Unlike the Christian charities and organizations who help HUMANS NO MATTER WHERE OR WHO THEY BELEIVE IN..

        1. dateam Avatar

          Oh master where did you get that from? Harit hraik and dahyeh are joined at the hip. The south is all joined. When are we going to stop looking at things in this manner? When they say hezbollah members they refer to the military wing…They get free medical and pensions and their family get pensions if they die and free medical. Thats what they refer to. They are totally set up. No hospital in lebanon turns people back based on sect. Are we not beyond this?

          1. 5thDrawer Avatar
            5thDrawer

            No. Not beyond it. Some ‘injured’ even request to be transferred as soon as possible to a hospital of ‘their own kind’ as soon as possible – as if doctors and nurses need to be a particular ‘sect’ to be able to function.
            I’ve always found it very weird, that ‘Medical System’ as a whole – if thinking that Lebanon is supposed to be ‘one country’.

          2. master09 Avatar

            No we are not beyond the truth, give me a name of one Islamic charity that helps non Muslims. That’s what I am talking about the bigger picture. I wait for you to give me ONE organisation with proff that they help NON Muslims. I have been working with charity groups around the world for 18 years now I can tell you what I see and who helps who. I was not just talking about HA and thier thugs. I hope you can find that needle in a hay stack.

  4. rossoferrari Avatar
    rossoferrari

    I want to see zabrallah helping the poor and the children in need.

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar
      5thDrawer

      Only Shiites. Maybe.

    2. dateam Avatar

      Hezbollah currently operates at least four hospitals, twelve clinics, twelve schools and two agricultural centres that provide farmers with technical assistance and training. It also has an environmental department and an extensive social assistance program. Medical care is also cheaper than in most of the country’s private hospitals and free for Hezbollah members”.[1]

      1. master09 Avatar
        master09

        The issue with that is they help their kind ONLY HA SUPPORTERS ONLY, Unlike the Christian charities and organizations who help HUMANS NO MATTER WHERE OR WHO THEY BELEIVE IN..

  5. Hannibal Avatar
    Hannibal

    RIP and may your killers taste the fires of hell… I hope foreign powers interfere in Syria to stop this nonsense, remove the 99.99% democratically elected Bashar and destroy all Islamists and give Syria back to the Syrians.

    1. nagy_michael2 Avatar
      nagy_michael2

      Amen!

    2. nagy_michael2 Avatar
      nagy_michael2

      Amen!

  6. sweetvirgo Avatar
    sweetvirgo

    RIP…..hopefully these Islamists will be rid of one day.

  7. Zanjabeel Avatar
    Zanjabeel

    now what would a so called “islamist” gain from killing this priest?

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar
      5thDrawer

      Check your Koran.

      1. Zanjabeel Avatar
        Zanjabeel

        5th,i’ve checked my Qur’an and no were in there it says to kill a christian/person with out reason!

      2. Zanjabeel Avatar
        Zanjabeel

        5th,i’ve checked my Qur’an and no were in there it says to kill a christian/person with out reason!

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