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Slain Dutch priest refused to leave besieged Syrian city

Dutch Jesuit priest Frans van der Lugt, killed by an unidentified gunman last week in Homs, had committed his life to building bridges between the Muslim and Christian communities in Syria.
Dutch Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt (R) talks with a man in the besieged area of Homs, January 30, 2014. Van der Lugt, who is living in the besieged area, made an appeal for help on a YouTube video few days ago, shedding light on the conditions inside, which is suffering severe food and medical shortages.  REUTERS/Yazan Homsy (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST RELIGION) - RTX181GR

AMSTERDAM — Seven years ago, Rony, 24, felt a bit scared when he attended his first church service by Dutch Jesuit priest Frans van der Lugt in Homs. As a young gay man who struggled to come to terms with his sexuality, he didn’t feel accepted by Syrian society. But after the service, Father Frans assured Rony that he was always welcome.

“'You don’t have to be ashamed,' he said, 'because God accepts all people.' A few years later, he even met my boyfriend," Rony, who doesn’t want his last name to be published, told Al-Monitor.

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