By Devin Watkins:An Italian association holds a press conference to remind the world about the abduction of Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio, who like so many others disappeared in Syria during the so-called Islamic State’s reign of terror.
Six years ago Monday, on 29 July 2013, Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio was kidnapped in the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa. The area was controlled by the so-called Islamic State at the time, and witnesses said the Italian missionary was abducted while walking in the city. No credible news has been heard of his whereabouts since. Love for neighbor On Monday, the Association of the Friends of Father Paolo Dall’Oglio held a press conference in Rome to keep alive the memory of his tragic disappearance. Fr. Dall’Oglio’s sister, Francesca, spoke to Vatican Radio about her brother. “Paolo is my idea of someone who has always searched to give meaning to his life, and to be upright and bear witness to love of neighbor,” she said. He found that love living and incarnated, she noted, in relations between Christians and Muslims. Fate of the missing The missing Jesuit’s sister also expressed her appreciation for Pope Francis’ recent letter to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. In one section, the Pope urges the Syrian government to allow families to access information regarding the fate of their loved ones. Francesca Dall’Oglio said the Holy Father’s strong message shows that the international community needs to be constantly reminded of Syria’s drawn-out conflict and its dire consequences. A heart for interreligious dialogue Fr. Dall’Oglio was heavily involved in interreligious dialogue and reconciliation. One of his pet projects was the transformation of a 6th century monastery near Damascus into an inter-faith cultural center. He spent 30 years at the Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian (Deir Mar Musa), helping restore the complex and its ancient Syriac art. It is in this place of encounter and prayer, where Muslims and Christians meet in peace, that a part of Fr. Dall’Oglio’s legacy lives on.