Paolo Dall'Oglio

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Paolo Dall'Oglio
Paolo Dall'Oglio.jpg
Paolo Dall'Oglio, December 2012 in Iraq
Born (1954-11-17)November 17, 1954
Rome, Italy
Died Presumed dead in 2013
Nationality Italian, Syrian
Occupation Priest

Father Paolo Dall'Oglio (born November 17, 1954) is an Italian Jesuit priest and peace activist. He was exiled from Syria by the government of Bashar al-Assad in 2012 for meeting with members of the opposition[1] and criticizing the actions of the al-Assad regime during the Syrian civil war.[2] He was kidnapped by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on 29 July 2013.

Before his kidnapping, he had served for three decades at the Deir Mar Musa, a 6th-century monastery 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Damascus. He has been credited with the reconstruction of the Mar Musa complex and its reinvention as a centre of interfaith dialogue.[3]

Biography[edit]

In 1975, Paolo Dall'Oglio joined the Jesuit order. He spent his novitiate in Italy before starting university studies of Arabic language and Islamic studies in Beirut, Lebanon, and Damascus, Syria.

In 1982, he explored the ruins of the old Syriac Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian (Deir Mar Musa) that can be traced back to the 6th century and had been abandoned since the 19th century.

Paolo Dall'Oglio - The Syrian tradition of coexistence and the present scenario of confrontation Film-Camera.pngplaylist

In 1984, Dall'Oglio was ordained priest in the Syriac Catholic rite. In the same year, he obtained a degree in Arabic language and Islamic studies from Naples Eastern University "L'Orientale" and in Catholic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

In 1986, he obtained another master's degree in Missiology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

In 1989, he obtained a PhD degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the topic "About Hope in Islam".

In 1992, he established the mixed monastic and ecumenical Community al-Khalil ("the Friend of God" - Biblical and Qu'ranic byname of the patriarch Abraham in Arabic language), dedicated to Muslim-Christian dialogue and located firstly in the refurbished Deir Mar Musa.

In 2009, Dall'Oglio obtained the double honorary doctorate of the Université catholique de Louvain and the KU Leuven.[4]

He contributed regularly to the magazine "Popoli", the international magazine of the Italian Jesuits, established in 1915.

Role in the Syrian civil war[edit]

In 2011, Paolo Dall'Oglio wrote an article pleading for a peaceful democratic transition in Syria, based on what he called "consensual democracy". He also met with opposition activists and participated in the funeral service for the 28-year-old Christian filmmaker Bassel Shehadeh, who had been murdered in Homs.[5]

The Syrian government reacted sharply and issued an expulsion order. Paolo Dall'Oglio ignored the order for a couple of months and continued living in Syria. However, following the publication of an open letter to UN special envoy Kofi Annan in May 2012,[6] he obeyed his bishop who urged him to leave the country. He left Syria on 12 June 2012 and joined in exile the newly established Deir Maryam al-Adhra of his community in Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan.[7]

In December 2012, Paolo Dall'Oglio was awarded the Peace Prize of the Italian region of Lombardy that is dedicated to persons having done extraordinary work in the field of peacebuilding.[8]

In late July 2013 Paolo Dall'Oglio entered rebel held territory in eastern Syria but was soon kidnapped by the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, while walking in Raqqa on 29 July.[9] Opposition sources from Raqqa said that Paolo Dall'Oglio has been executed by the extremist group [10] and his body thrown into a ground hole in the city of Raqqa, called “Al-Houta”. Dead Assad loyalist soldiers would have often been thrown into the same hole.[11] The claims are not yet confirmed.

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • (in Italian) Speranza nell'Islam: Interpretazione della prospettiva escatologica di Corano XVIII, 365 pp., Marietti, Milano 1991, ISBN 978-8-8211-7461-2
  • (in French) Amoureux de l'islam, croyant en Jésus, in cooperation with Églantine Gabaix-Hialé, preface by Régis Debray, 190 pp., Les Editions de l'Atelier, Paris 2009, ISBN 978-2-7082-4044-5
  • (in Italian) La sete di Ismaele. Siria, diario monastico islamo-cristiano, Gabrielli Editori, Verona 2011, ISBN 978-8-8609-9141-6
  • (in French) La démocratie consensuelle, pour l’unité nationale, 27 July 2011, published on the official website of the monastery of Mar Musa
  • (in French) La rage et la lumière, in cooperation with Églantine Gabaix-Hialé, Les Editions de l'Atelier, Paris, May 2013

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]