VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis met with family members of Italian Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, whose fate is still unknown after he was kidnapped in Syria in 2013.

Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office, told reporters Jan. 30 that the pope held the private audience at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The meeting took place in “a particularly cordial atmosphere,” Gisotti said, and included Father Dall’Oglio’s mother, four sisters and one brother.


“The audience represents the pope’s affection and proximity toward the family of the Italian Jesuit who was kidnapped in Syria in July of 2013.”

The pope met with family members on another occasion at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome in July 2014 — just a few days after the first anniversary of the priest’s disappearance.

The Italian missionary was a respected promoter of peace and Christian-Muslim dialogue in Syria. Witnesses had reported that on the day the priest disappeared he was going to speak to leaders at the Islamic State headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, to try to persuade them to release several hostages being held there.