ROME, FEB. 8, 2011 (Zenit.org).- An Italian bishop is calling on Christians not to be ashamed of their faith, as an event in Rome marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of Father Andrea Santoro in Turkey.
Italian-born Father Santoro was one of the victims in the months-long uproar that ensued after cartoons depicting Mohammed were published in Denmark in September 2005.
The priest was shot and killed while praying in his church in the Black Sea port city of Trabzon.
A prayer vigil for persecuted Christians and for religious liberty was held in his honor on the night of Feb. 5-6, in the Roman church of Saint Gregory VII.
Auxiliary Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole of L’Aquila opened the event, calling on the faithful in Italy not to be ashamed to be Christian. He lamented the recent failure of the E.U. foreign affairs council to agree on a statement condemning religious persecution and anti-Christian violence.
And the prelate called on Catholics to move from a theoretical Christianity to genuine witness, and to identify themselves as Christians.
Salt without taste
The vigil was organized by the parish-based Movimento dell’Amore Familiare (Movement of Familial Love). Stefano Tarani, founder of this movement, affirmed that “we want to be close to those Christian communities in the world that suffer persecution and intolerance, discrimination and also violent acts and murders.”
Today this is happening, he said, “particularly in the Middle East, the Holy Land, Asia and Africa.”
Participants in the vigil prayed the rosary and reflected on some lines from Father Santoro’s letters, including: “Only one thing is to be feared: not to be Christians, to be, as Jesus said, ‘salt without taste'” and “if we forget Jesus’ words ‘put your sword back in your scabbard’ and ‘love your enemies,’ we will also wither.”