Funeral Service Held for Bishop Padovese

Catholic Community Urged to Not Be Fearful

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ISKENDERUN, Turkey, JUNE 7, 2010 ( At the funeral Mass for Bishop Luigi Padovese, the Catholic community was encouraged to take heart, and to not be afraid.

Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini of Symrna said this today in his homily at the funeral Mass for the 63-year-old bishop, which was held in the Church of the Annunciation.

Also present was the apostolic nuncio to Turkey, Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, several other bishops from Turkey, and local authorities, including the chief of police.

Bishop Padovese, who was the apostolic vicar in Anatolia and president of the Turkish bishops’ conference, was murdered Thursday in Iskenderun 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.

«Be not afraid,» Archbishop Franceschini said. «Don’t be disheartened, but rather joyful, like the apostles, for having successfully lived through suffering and a test of your faith. [Faith] is the reason for our hope, the foundation of our joy.

«No one will put out this flame, for it is supported by many martyrs and saints of these lands, by the Holy Virgin, patron of this community, but also, from today, by one more angel in the throne of God: your — our — Bishop Luigi.»

The archbishop acknowledged that the death of the bishop «has left us shaken, unable to understand how something so terrible could have happened, above all to a man of the Church, a bishop who was such a friend to the Turks.»

«To us, Christians, his death reminds us how fidelity to the Gospel is paid for with blood,» he added.

Archbishop Franceschini recalled the many accomplishments of Bishop Padovese since being named nuncio to Anatolia in 2004, including dialogue with Muslims, a program that delivers food to nearly 70 families (only one of those families being Christian), and good relations with civil authorities.

After today’s funeral in Turkey, the bishop’s body will be transported to Milan, Italy, for burial. The funeral service in Italy is expected to take place next Monday, after Italian authorities conduct an autopsy.

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