Pontiff Laments Murder of Bishop Padovese

Sends His Condolences to Nuncio to Turkey

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 5, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent his condolences today to the apostolic nuncio to Turkey for the death of Bishop Luigi Padovese, who was stabbed to death Thursday.

The 63-year-old prelate, who was the apostolic vicar in Anatolia and president of the Turkish bishops’ conference, was murdered in Iskenderun, Turkey, hours before he was to travel to Cyprus for the apostolic trip of Benedict XVI.

Authorities charged the Capuchin bishop’s driver with the murder, 26-year-old Murat Altun, who is said to be mentally unstable.

The telegram, sent to Archbishop Antonio Lucibello on the Pope’s behalf by Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said the Pontiff was «deeply saddened by the murder» and asked the archbishop to «convey [the Holy Father’s] heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his closeness in prayer to the bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful of the Church in Turkey.»

The text continued: «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.»

Benedict XVI is in Cyprus through Sunday, where he will present the «instrumentum laboris» (working document) for the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in Rome in October.

In comments Friday during a press conference with journalists accompanying him on his three-day trip, the Pope noted that Bishop Padovese had «contributed greatly» to the preparation of the synod for the Middle East, and also cautioned against confusing the incident with religion or politics.

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