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Priest who taught tolerance in Syria warns of 'horrible' end

November 2, 2012 | By Caroline Donati

Italian Jesuit priest Paolo Dall’Oglio (pictured) has spent more than 30 years in Syria, where he rehabilitated the abandoned Deir Mar Musa monastery situated 80 kilometres north of Damascus. There he created a pluralist, ecumenical community where he preached tolerance and encouraged inter-faith dialogue. His activities brought him into increasing conflict with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and he was finally expelled from the country this summer. In this in-depth interview with Caroline Donati, he offers a rare insight into the workings and strategies of both the Assad regime and the forces of the opposition movement, the stance of the Christian community and the hopes for future reconciliation, and denounces what he calls “the outrageous” and “disgusting” distance of the West in face of the escalating slaughter of opponents to the Damascus regime.  

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Italian Jesuit priest Paolo Dall’Oglio has spent more than 30 years in Syria, where he rehabilitated the abandoned 6th-century Deir Mar Musa monastery situated 80 kilometres north of Damascus. There he created a pluralist, ecumenical community, called ‘al-Khalil’, where he preached tolerance and encouraged inter-faith dialogue.