|Fr. Frans van der Lugt, S.J. presiding at Mass in Homs|
A Dutch Jesuit priest who chose to remain in the beseiged city of Homs to care for its starving population has been shot dead, according to media reports. Fr Frans van der Lugt, a 75-year-old psychologist, had remained in the rebel-controlled Old City throughout the siege, which is now over 600-days long, with government forces surrounding them. He had been offered the chance to leave, but chose to stay.
His death was reported by the pro-government Al-Mayadeen TV, and the Jesuits have since told the Catholic News Service that Fr van der Lugt was beaten and then shot with two bullets in the head. The Washington Post reports that a masked gunman killed the priest inside a monastery in the Bustan al-Diwan area of the city, although the identity and motive of the killer remains unclear.
In February he had told the Daily Telegraph that the city had been abandoned by the international community. He came to Syria in 1966, and in the 1980s had set up an agricultural project outside the city to help young people with mental disabilities. He said that hunger was sending some people insane.
Link (here) to the Catholic Herald