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Uncertainty mounts about priest who disappeared in Syria

July 31, 2013

While Church officials in Syria are increasingly concerned about a Jesuit priest who has been reported kidnapped, some activists told the Italian ANSA news agency that Father Paolo Dall’Oglio has not been abducted.

Father Dall’Oglio, who was expelled from Syria last year because of his remarks criticizing the Assad regime, has quietly returned to the country several times, to negotiate the release of hostages held by rebel groups. He apparently entered Syria recently to seek the release of a television crew being held by an Islamic faction.

According to some reports, Father Dall’Oglio was himself seized by the Islamists. Other witnesses say that the Jesuit priest deliberately broke off all contacts in order to pursue his negotiations with the rebel group. Archbishop Mario Zenari, the apostolic nuncio in Syria, conceded that he could not confirm the priest’s kidnapping. But evidently convinced that Father Dall’Oglio had indeed been seized, he told Vatican Radio that the priest’s plight fits into a sad pattern of kidnappings, which constitute “a painful wound inflicted on the Syrian nation and its people.”


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