ROME: Pope Francis made a “surprise” appearance this week at a luncheon that brought him together with the family of Jesuit priest Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, who went missing in Syria one year ago.
The pope slipped out of the Vatican Thursday for his second drop-in, surprise lunch, visiting his fellow Jesuits on the feast day of their founder, St. Ignatius Loyola.
Francis told the Jesuit superior, the Rev. Adolfo Nicolas, only at the last minute that he wanted to join, and was driven down the block to the Jesuit headquarters in his blue Ford Focus for the visit.
Also attending the luncheon were the seven siblings of Dall’Oglio, who was abducted in Syria a year ago, after achieving prominence during the early years of the popular uprising as an opponent of the Syrian regime’s violent crackdown.
A Jesuit statement issued on Friday said Francis “consoled them with words of comfort.”
Paolo’s family this week issued a video appeal to the priest’s unknown captors. The Al-Qaeda splinter group ISIS is widely believed to have seized Dall’Oglio in Raqqa on July 29 of last year.
“We ask those responsible for the disappearance of a good man, a man of faith, a man of peace, to have the dignity to let us know of his fate,” they said. “We would like to hold him in our arms. However, we are also prepared to mourn him.”
Several unconfirmed reports have circulated since Dall’Oglio’s disappearance claiming that ISIS militants executed him, although no firm evidence has surfaced with regard to his fate.