Expelling Peacemakers

The Syrian government has expelled Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit and vocal advocate for peace and understanding.

Word reached us last week that the Syrian government had expelled Father Paolo Dall’Oglio — an Italian Jesuit who restored an abandoned Syriac monastery in the desert — for his prayerful peacemaking efforts in the country, which is on the brink of civil war.

Last week, The New York Times reported on the “activist’s” whereabouts, highlighting the complex difficulties for Christian minorities living in a repressive Middle East state. “How can we stay silent?” Father Paolo said. “We are in solidarity with the repression, not only because we don’t denounce the repression, but also because we negate there is repression.”

After restoring the sixth-century monastery, Father Paolo refounded Mar Musa as an ecumenical religious house for men and women under the patronage of the Syriac Catholic patriarchate. He consequently transformed the monastery into an important center for Christian-Muslim understanding in the Middle East.

“We are particularly committed to prayer, hospitality and dialogue with the Islamic world,” Father Paolo shared with our magazine readers in an article in 1998. “We hope to be a part of the movement in the universal church working toward achieving harmony with the Islamic world.”

Today, with its shepherd in exile in Beirut, Mar Musa is silent. “There are no upcoming events.”

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