According to the Vatican, a well-known Jesuit priest who ministered to the people of Syria, was abducted, beaten and executed in front of his own monastery by gunmen. Since the 1960s, Father Francis Van Der Lugt, who was 75-years-old when he was killed, operated a home for people with mental disabilities near the city of Homs. After the war broke out, the Syrian government placed a siege on the city and Father Francis Van Der Lugt worked with civilians there. Even when he had the opportunity to leave Homs along with hundreds of starving residents (who were without food because of the siege), he refused.

In a statement, Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for his Jesuit order said, “Where people die, their faithful shepherds also die with them. In this time of great sorrow, we express our participation in prayer, but also great pride and gratitude for having had a brother so close to the most suffering in the testimony of the love of Jesus to the end.” It is unclear who was behind the murder. Father Van Der Lugt was a vocal opponent of the regime of President Bashar Assad for their brutal tactics, but Islamic rebels in the country have also been known to attack Christians …