Vatican City, 9 April 2014 (VIS) – “Last Monday Fr. Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch Jesuit brother aged 75, was assassinated in Syria. Fr. Van der Lugt had always been good to all, acting with love and gratuity, and was therefore loved and esteemed by both Christians and Muslims”, said Pope Francis, after today's catechesis. “His brutal killing filled me with profound sadness and made me think once again of the many people who suffer and die in that afflicted country, which has already been too long in the throes of a bloody conflict that continues to spread death and destruction. I also think of the many people kidnapped, both Christians and Muslims, Syrian and from other countries, among whom there are bishops and priests. I ask the Lord that they may soon return to their loved ones and to their families and communities”.
He continued, “I fervently implore all to join in my prayer for peace in Syria and throughout the region, and make a heartfelt appeal to the Syrian authorities and to the international community: set down your weapons and bring an end to the violence! No more war! No more destruction! Respect human rights, take care of your people who are in need of humanitarian assistance, and pursue the longed-for peace through dialogue and reconciliation”.