VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has denounced the "brutal slaying" of an elderly Jesuit priest in Syria and called for an end to the violence.
A masked gunman killed the Rev. Francis Van Der Lugt in his monastery on Monday in the besieged Syrian city of Homs. The slaying underscored fears among many of Syria's Christian and Muslim minorities for the fate of their communities as Islamic extremists gain influence among rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad.
Francis referred to the killing of his "Jesuit brother" at the end of his Wednesday general audience: "His brutal slaying filled me with profound pain and made me think again about the many people who are suffering and dying in that martyred country, my beloved Syria."
He added: "No more war! No more destruction!"
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.