Pope Mourns Missionary Slain in Brazil

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI expressed his condolences at the death of Father Ruggero Ruvoletto, an Italian missionary killed Saturday in Brazil.

The Pope sent his sympathies in a telegram signed by his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and addressed to Archbishop Luiz Soares Vieira of Manaus.

In the message, the Holy Father strongly condemns this «vile and cruel act against a peaceful servant of the Gospel,» and transmits his spiritual closeness in prayer.

Father Ruvoletto was murdered on Saturday in his parish of St. Evelina, on the outskirts of Manaus, in northeastern Brazil.

Police initially said the homicide was associated with a robbery. However the Italian episcopate’s SIR news agency reported today that there is growing certainty that the slaying is part of a series of «acts of intimidation against the Church in the Manaus region because for a long time it has denounced criminal activities, drug trafficking and the traffic of human beings.»

There are documents and interviews dating back to 2006 that show how Father Ruvoletto was vocal in denouncing «drugs and prostitution as social plagues.»

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Father Ruggero Ruvoletto was born March 23, 1957, in Galta di Vigonovo, near Venice. He was ordained a priest in 1982.

He left for Brazil six years ago as a «fidei donum» missionary.

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