Milan Bids Farewell to Native Son Slain in Turkey

Bishop Padovese Served as Apostolic Vicar in Anatolia

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By Carmen Elena Villa
MILAN, Italy, JUNE 15, 2010 ( Benedict XVI characterized his brother bishop Luigi Padovese as a «beloved pastor» and a generous witness and architect «of dialogue for reconciliation.»

The Pope’s estimation of the slain bishop was recorded in a telegram addressed to the Archdiocese of Milan, read at Monday’s funeral for the 63-year-old prelate.

Luigi Padovese was born in Milan in 1947. He was ordained a Capuchin priest in 1973, and sent to Turkey in 2004, serving as the apostolic vicar in Anatolia and president of the Turkish bishops’ conference. He was murdered by his driver June 3 in Iskenderun, hours before he was to travel to Cyprus to participate in the Holy Father’s apostolic trip there.

The Pontiff’s message was read at the funeral by the apostolic nuncio in Italy, Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello. Benedict XVI sent two additional telegrams of condolence: one to the bishop’s family and another to the Capuchin religious congregation.
On June 7, in the cathedral of Iskenderun, the first funeral ceremony was held, presided over by Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, apostolic nuncio in Turkey.

Bearing fruit
Some 5,000 people were present Monday in Milan’s cathedral to bid farewell to Bishop Padovese. The ceremony was presided over by Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of the city. It was concelebrated by 40 bishops and close to 200 priests.
Representing the Holy See was Archbishop Edmond Farhat, former apostolic nuncio in Turkey, who ordained Father Padovese a bishop in November 2004.
In his homily Cardinal Tettamanzi referred to Bishop Padovese as «a grain of wheat that bears fruit silently» and he highlighted the prelate’s «tireless efforts to build areas of dialogue and meeting between cultures and religions, and among Christians themselves.»
The cardinal classified the prelate as a «son of the Ambrosian Church» who was also a «son and father of the Church in Turkey.» But he said he was especially a «true disciple of Christ,» who was able to give «the whole of himself for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the life of those entrusted to him.»
The cardinal also addressed a message to the small Turkish Catholic community. «As Ambrosian Church, we wish, along with all the Christian communities, to take up and address the challenge of being ever more aware of your Christian identity and to be able to offer always and everywhere, without any fear, the testimony of an authentically evangelical life, loving Christ and every person to the end.»
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano also sent a message in which he assured that Bishop Padovese «has witnessed with generosity and commitment the universal values of dialogue, tolerance and reciprocal understanding.»
«Beyond the circumstances of the tragic event,» Napolitano wrote, «respect for the Christian presence as well as the presence of each of the other religious confessions, must be a common commitment of institutions and of society in all countries that wish to recognize one another in the principles that inspire the international community.»
Bishop Padovese’s remains were laid to rest in Milan together with those of his family.

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