Pope's Envoy Named for Slain Prelate's Funeral

Apostolic Administrator to Cover Vacant See

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop who consecrated Bishop Luigi Padovese will serve as the representative of the Holy See at the slain prelate’s funeral in his native Milan.

Archbishop Edmond Farhat will be at the funeral Monday in representation of the Pope.

Bishop Padovese was serving as the apostolic vicar in Anatolia and president of the Turkish bishops’ conference. He was murdered June 3 by his driver.

Archbishop Farhat was the apostolic nuncio in Turkey from 2001 to 2005; Father Luigi Padovese was named the apostolic vicar of Anatolia in 2004.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, a Jesuit priest who directs the Vatican press office, confirmed to ZENIT that «at the funeral there will be a message from the Pope to the archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi.”

The spokesman noted how the Pope has been closely following the case of the slain prelate, and how during his trip to Cyprus he expressed his sorrow at the tragedy.

The Holy Father «continues to keep himself informed,” Father Lombardi affirmed. “[His] secretary of state respects the Turkish magistrature, which has taken on the investigation of the assassination.”

Open arms

Meanwhile, Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini of Izmir, Turkey, as apostolic administrator of the see left vacant by Bishop Padovese’s death.

Archbishop Franceschini, 70, was the apostolic vicar of Turkey from 1993 to 2004, until Pope John Paul II made him archbishop of Izmir.

The prelate told Vatican Radio that he is expecting difficulties with the new appointment since «the Christian community is prostrate.» But, he added, «it is also a young Christian community and, so, it has the will to succeed and overcome these times. […]

“I am convinced that we will succeed in putting this beautiful, little community, which has the will to live and survive, back on its feet.»

The archbishop acknowledged that he has seen “anger” in the community in Turkey but above all “a great desire to weep” because of the loss of their leader and the uncertainty of the future.

In regard to Bishop Padovese, Archbishop Franceschini said, “Maybe, if he erred, he erred in openness; he opened up so much toward others.”

Echoing the sentiments of Cardinal Tettamanzi, the archbishop said his slain brother prelate «was not a wall but an open door.»

«He worked a great deal with the local authorities to get the Christian minority recognized,» the archbishop added. 

“Father Padovese must be remembered as a person for the good who continually opened his arms to welcome anyone,” he affirmed. “Perhaps he was not very prudent … but advising a bishop to be prudent is difficult!”

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