The diocese and the community of Homs, Hama and Nabek grieve the loss of a great shepherd, who over the last three years had been as a light guiding his community with faith and courage through a valley of darkness. During the current conflict his diocese had experienced some of the worst violence and highest displacement levels of anywhere in Syria. The Archbishop had been tireless in his efforts to support his people in their time of suffering and oversaw the distribution of aid to all those in need without distinction to their religion or affiliation.
It was Archbishop Kassab who was responsible for the expulsion from Syria, in 2012, of the Italian cleric Paolo dall’Oglio. The Italian cleric who had lived for many years as part of the Syriac Catholic community in the diocese caused grave upset and distress within the diocese not least in his subterfuge with, western backed, Islamist sectarian rebels in Homs old city and the town of Qusayr.
Many Christians in the diocese were deeply upset that the Italian cleric had cast doubt within the foreign media as to the true suffering they were experiencing. Thousands of faithful were forced to flee and or were internally displaced within the diocese due to violence directed at them by armed rebels whom the Italian supported.
Archbishop Kassab passed away on the evening of Tuesday 22nd of October in Kessrouan, Lebanon. His death occurred due to medical complications following a recent surgery. His remains were transferred to the Patriarchal Monastery of Our Lady of Deliverance, Harissa, where prayers were offered. On the following morning the funeral cortege travelled on to the diocese of Homs in Syria. The Archbishop’s remains were on view to the faithful in the Church of Our Lady of Deliverance in Zadl, Homs for the following 3 days. Funeral service and burial took place on Monday 28th of October.