VATICAN CITY: The Italian abbot of an ancient monastery in Syria who has criticized the bloody crackdown on protests and campaigned for peace talks said on Monday that he was being expelled from the country.
"It seems the authorities have decided it would be better if Father Paolo did not stay in Syria," Paolo Dall'Oglio, who heads the monastery of Deir Mar Musa some 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Damascus, told Vatican radio.
Dall'Oglio, a Jesuit monk who has lived in Syria for 30 years and campaigned for inter-faith dialogue, said the expulsion order had not been formalized as the authorities wanted the Syriac Catholic bishop of Homs to make it official.
"I hope this decision can be stopped," he said.
In an interview with AFP in September, Dall'Oglio said: "The first step towards saving this country is real freedom of expression, press and opinion."
He called on all parties for "a long, patient, demanding dialogue" in order to avoid "a situation like in Iraq and Libya."
Dall'Oglio founded his community in 1992 in the ruins of the Mar Musa monastery. Christians and Muslims pray side by side at the monastery.