Christians and Muslims Say Goodbye to Slain Bishop

Thousands Attend Funeral of Apostolic Vicar Luigi Locati

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ISIOLO, Kenya, JULY 20, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Diocese of Isiolo said its last goodbye to its bishop, Luigi Locati, who was murdered last week.

Numerous Muslims joined the thousands of faithful who attended today’s funeral in the local cathedral, presided over by the papal nuncio in Kenya, Archbishop Alain Lebeaupin.

The many people who attended — Vatican Radio described the mood of the funeral as one of shock — reflected the four decades of commitment of the Italian missionary prelate to people of all ages and faiths.

In addition to the papal representative, 17 bishops, about 300 priests and 500 nuns, and representatives of evangelical denominations and the local Muslim community, as well as the country’s president, attended the service.

Some members of Bishop Locati’s family and diocesan priests of Vercelli, Italy, the murdered prelate’s native diocese, were also present.

Also on hand were at least 3,000 people, half of them Muslims, according to Father Giuseppe Caramazza, director of the Comboni missionary magazine New People. He spoke on Vatican Radio from Isiolo, in northern Kenya, at the end of the ceremony.

Papal condolences

At the start of the funeral service, the nuncio Archbishop Lebeaupin read a message from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, in which he transmitted on the Pope’s behalf his condolences for the murder of the apostolic vicar of Isiolo, and assured the diocese of his prayers and spiritual closeness.

In his homily, Archbishop John Njue, the new apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Isiolo, said that “the most important lesson today came from the deceased himself, who is present among us, who gave more than 40 years of his life for the proclamation of the Gospel” in the region.

In his address, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, encouraged the people to cooperate with the police to identify those responsible for the crime.

At the end of the funeral, Bishop Locati’s remains were buried in the crypt of the cathedral.

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