A Catholic bishop who was a leading figure in Christian communities in the Middle East was stabbed to death at his home in southern Turkey on Thursday, and police arrested his driver in connection with the attack.
The motive for the killing of Luigi Padovese, apostolic vicar for Anatolia, in the town of Iskenderun was not known. Previous attacks on Christians have raised concerns about the safety of religious minorities in Muslim Turkey.
Hatay Provincial Governor Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz told the state-run news agency Anatolian there was no immediate evidence of a political motive and the bishop’s driver had been arrested.
Pope Benedict's telegram:
VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father, through Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., has sent the following English-language telegram of condolence to Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, apostolic nuncio to Turkey, for the death of Bishop Luigi Padovese O.F.M. Cap., apostolic vicar of Anatolia and president of the Turkish Episcopal Conference. Bishop Padovese was murdered in the Turkish city of Iskanderun on Thursday.May we be ever mindful of priests and bishops who are heroic pastors in taking risks in accepting appointments in difficult circumstances. Requiescat in pace.
"Deeply saddened by the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, apostolic vicar of Anatolia, the Holy Father asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his closeness in prayer to the bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful of the Church in Turkey. He joins all of you in commending the noble soul of this beloved pastor to the infinite mercy of God our Father and in giving thanks for the selfless witness to the Gospel and resolute commitment to dialogue and reconciliation which characterized his priestly life and episcopal ministry. United with all who mourn Bishop Padovese in the hope which draws its certainty from the resurrection, His Holiness cordially imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in our Lord Jesus Christ".