Turkey: Catholic bishop murdered

Bishop Luigi Padovese

Bishop Luigi Padovese

Bishop Luigi Padovese, 63, was stabbed to death in his house in the city of Iskenderun yesterday. He was attacked in the garden of his summer house in the Mediterranean port,  by a man who had been employed as his personal driver for more than four years.

The authorities say this was not an anti-Christian hate crime. Turkish police have arrested the killer and say he is mentally unstable, with serious psychological problems.

Bishop Padovese, who was the Pope's apostolic vicar in Anatolia and head of the Turkish Bishops Conference, died in the ambulance on the way to hospital. An Italian national, he was due to go to Cyprus to accompany the Pope during his visit to the island.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi  said he was "dismayed" by the news. "It is a terrible... incredible" killing, he said.

Although this murder does not seem to have been religiously motivated, there have been a few attacks on Christians in recent years in Turkey.  In 2007, a Catholic priest survived after being stabbed by a 19-year-old boy after Sunday Mass in the western city of Izmir.
In that year, three Christians were killed in a Bible-publishing house in Malatya. In 2006, a 16-year-old boy shot dead a Catholic priest, Father Andrea Santoro, as he prayed in his church in the Black Sea city of Trabzon.

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