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Pope Francis prays for Jesuit kidnapped in Syria

Italian Jesuit Fr Paolo Dall'Oglio, pictured in 2008 (CNS)

Pope Francis has made an urgent appeal for the release of Fr Dall’Oglio, the Jesuit priest kidnapped two years ago in Syria

At the Angelus yesterday Pope Francis called on everyone present to pray for the Jesuit priest who was taken by ISIS in Raqqa in 2013. He also recalled the two Aleppo bishops who were kidnapped that same year and have not been seen since.

In front of tens of thousands of people in Rome the pontiff made a “pressing appeal” for the release of the clerics, describing his fellow Jesuit Fr Dall’Oglio as an “estimated religious”.

Fr Dall’Oglio had spent four decades in Syria before being expelled by the Assad regime for criticising its human rights abuses. However he returned in July 2013 and was last seen in ISIS-controlled Raqqa calling for peace, and was last seen on July 29.

Among other victims include two Orthodox bishops: Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi of the Orthodox Church of Antioch, and Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who was abducted in April 2013.

After the appeal for Fr Dall’Oglio, Francis also recalled the other missing religious: “I cannot forget – he said – the orthodox bishops kidnapped in Syria and all other persons who were seized in conflict zones. I hope for a renewed commitment of the competent local and international authorities, so that these brothers will soon be restored to freedom. With affection and participation in their suffering, we want to remember them in prayer.”

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