Homs, Syria, Apr 8, 2019 / 16:01 pm
During a visit to Homs last week, the superior general of the Society of Jesus said that he would be happy to open a cause of beatification for Fr. Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in the Syrian city five years ago.
“I would be happy, God willing, to work for the opening of the cause of Fr Frans van der Lugt so that he may serve as a model of self-giving and holiness for this country, Syria, and for the whole Church,” Fr. Arturo Sosa said April 6 during a trip commemorating the April 7, 2014 death of the priest.
Fr. van der Lugt, a native of the Netherlands, was killed by an unknown gunman. He was caring for the fewer than 30 Christians who then remained in the Old City district of Homs, which had been blockaded by the Syrian government for nearly two years as part of the Syrian civil war.
Fr. Sosa visited Homs April 5-6, and Beirut April 7, in memory of Fr. van der Lugt, delivering and address and celebrating Masses. Fr. Ziad Hilal, a Syrian Jesuit, told La Croix that Fr. Sosa was accompanied by Fr. Pascual Cebollada, the Society's general postulator.
“According to the rules of the Church, it is necessary to wait for five years after the death of someone before introducing his or her case for beatification. It is time now to begin the process,” Fr. Hilal said.
Fr. van der Lugt served in Syria nearly 50 years, 30 of them in Homs, and was involved in interreligious dialogue and had built a spirituality center that housed children with mental disabilities.
During his April 6 address, Fr. Sosa said: “Being here with you in Homs on the eve of the 5th anniversary of the martyrdom of Fr Frans van der Lugt is a particularly important and moving moment for me … To come to Syria, to know this place where Fr. Frans lived for many years, to be one of the so many pilgrims who give thanks for what his life has meant, even without knowing him, was for me a wish, indeed a burning desire ever since I first heard about him.”
Fr. van der Lugt “loved this country, Syria, and the many and diverse people with whom he was in contact for almost 50 years, and to whom he gave himself by speaking their language, receiving everything from them and presenting himself to them with empty hands,” the superior general said.