Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt, a 72-year-old priest serving the poor and homeless in war-torn Syria, was killed on Monday, April 7, after being shot by a gunman, the Jesuits’ Middle East province reported.
His death came amidst growing insurgent tensions in Homs, the Old City district where Fr. van der Lugt lived.
Fr. van der Lugt had served in Syria for nearly 50 years, founding the Al Art Center, which cared for handicapped individuals and worked to foster dialog among people of different religions. During the recent conflicts there, he helped with evacuation efforts and ministered to others who remained despite the threat of physical harm.
“I don’t see Muslims or Christians, I see, above all, human beings,” said Fr. van der Lugt in a February interview with ReliefWeb.
At this point, details about the alleged shooter are unclear. Fr. Jan Stuyt, the secretary of the Dutch Jesuit Order told the New York Times that Fr. van der Lugt will be buried in Syria, according to van der Lugt’s wishes.
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