Thursday, June 03, 2010

Tragedy in Turkey

Four years after an Italian missionary priest was killed in his Turkish church, the specter of violence against Christians has returned to the headlines -- a bishop there, likewise of Italian roots, was stabbed to death today:
Luigi Padovese, 63, was attacked in the garden of his summer house in the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun, according to Anatolia news agency.

Police have arrested Bishop Padovese's driver, a man identified only as Murat A.

There has been a series of attacks on Christians in Turkey in recent years.

Bishop Padovese, the Pope's apostolic vicar in Anatolia and an Italian national, died in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

The Vatican said it was "dismayed" by Bishop Padovese's death.

"It is a terrible... incredible" killing, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told the Italian news agency ANSA.

Provincial Governor Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz told Associated Press news agency that the suspect had worked for Bishop Padovese for four-and-a-half years.

Bishop Padovese's murder was the latest of several such attacks in the country over recent years, where Christians compose less than 1% of the mainly Muslim population.

In 2007, a Catholic priest in the western city of Izmir was wounded after being stabbed by a 19-year-old after Sunday Mass.

In the same year, three Christians were killed in a Bible-publishing house in the Anatolian city of Malatya.
Padovese was the ordinary of Don Andrea Santoro, the aforementioned priest stabbed in his sanctuary in 2006.

According to the last available figures, the number of murdered church workers worldwide nearly doubled in 2009, to 37, up from 20 in 2008.

No less than thirty (76%) of the group were priests; the remainder comprised two women religious, two seminarians and three laity.