Catholic bishop slain in Turkey was due to meet Pope in Cyprus

Bishop Luigi Padovese has been killed

THE apostolic vicar of Anatolia who was fatally stabbed yesterday had been scheduled to leave for Cyprus today to meet Pope Benedict XVI and other Middle Eastern Catholic representatives.

Bishop Luigi Padovese, 63, the apostolic vicar of Anatolia, is thought to have been attacked when he opened the door to his slayer in his home in the southeastern Mediterranean port town of Iskenderun, Turkey.

Mgr Antonio Lucibello, apostolic nuncio in Turkey, confirmed yesterday that the bishop, originally from Italy, had been killed.

“At the moment I don’t have more detailed news. But from what I have heard, Mgr Padovese’s driver, (known as) Murat (Altun), is said to have confessed,” Mgr Lucibello, said.

Mr Altun, 26, has confessed to the killing, according to his lawyer Cihan Onal, and was charged with murder today.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, said that the Vatican feels ‘immense pain, consternation, bewilderment and stupor’ over the death.

“The assassination showed the difficult conditions that the Catholic community in the region lives in,” he added.

The killing of Mgr Padovese is the latest in a string of attacks in recent years on Christians in predominantly Muslim Turkey, where Christians make up less than one percent of the 70 million population.

A Catholic priest in the western city of Izmir, Adriano Franchini, was stabbed by a youth after Sunday Mass in 2007. The man was arrested.
Later that year a group of men entered a Bible publisher’s in the central Anatolian city of Malatya and killed three Christians, including a German national. Five suspects are now standing trial for murder.
In 2006, following anger in Islamic countries after the publication in European newspapers of caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, a 16-year-old boy shot dead Catholic r Andrea Santoro, as he prayed in his church in Trabzon. The youth was found guilty of murder and jailed for 18 years.


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