Dutch priest shot dead in Syria

Independent Catholic News

By: Dan Bergin

Fr Frans van der Lugt
Fr Frans van der Lugt

A Dutch Jesuit priest was abducted and shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the besieged Syrian city of Homs on Monday, Dutch media has reported. Armed men took him from his home in the morning and shot him twice in the head, the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant said, quoting the head of the Jesuit order in the Netherlands.

Fr Frans van der Lugt, a 75 year old psychologist, had been living in Syria since 1966. In the 1980s he set up a farming project to help young people with learning difficulties.

In a video appeal made on 27 January Fr Van der Lugt warned of the humanitarian suffering of the population in Homs, saying people in Homs were living in misery and starvation and appeals to the Red Cross for help to get women and children out of the besieged city.

Speaking in Arabic he said: “It’s impossible that we suffer and the world does nothing.”

See his video appeal here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhQHg6ivGPg

David Alton said in a statement: “In a talk at the beginning of Lent I cited the heroic and faithful work of Fr van der Lugt who, in the face of extraordinary danger and acute suffering, refused to desert the suffering people of Homs. He personified all the best qualities and ideals which the Society of Jesus stands for. He joins a long list of Jesuit martyrs who have sacrificed their lives truly believing that a man has no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.

His death is a stark reminder of the systematic campaign by Jihaddists intent on the destruction of the region’s ancient churches and the contemporary Passion and suffering being inflicted on the Middle East’s Christians.

The tragic news of Fr van der Lugt’s murder came just 24 hours before an Aid to the Church in Need Vigil for Syria in London’s Jesuit church at Farm Street. It’s a moment to honour a great man but also to raise our voices and prayers.”