Turkish Gunman Mehmet Ali Agca Lays Flowers at Tomb of St. John Paul II

Would-Be Assasin’s Second Request for Private Meeting with Pope Francis Denied

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Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish assassin who attempted to kill St. John Paul II in 1981, visited St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday where he left two bouquets of white roses at the tomb of the Polish pontiff.

The former member of the “Grey Wolves” terrorist group was pardoned in 2000 by Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. According to Vatican Radio, Agca’s visit coincided with the 31stanniversary of St. John Paul II’s private visit with him at the Roman prison of Rebbibia in December 1983.

In a statement, the vice director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Ciro Benedettini, said: “Ali Agca was able to enter the Basilica with no problem because there is no open case [against him] with the Vatican.”

Agca’s stay at the Basilica, he added, “was very brief.”

After laying the flowers, the former Turkish assassin was escorted by Italian police to a local station in Cavour Square for questioning. Security forces stated that when asked for the reason for his visit, Agca allegedly said: “I felt the need to make this gesture.”

According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Agca’s second request for a private meeting with Pope Francis was denied. “He has put flowers on the tomb of John Paul II. I think that is enough,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi stated in an interview.

Agca has been free since 2010, after serving time in Turkey for various crimes committed in the 70s.

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