|Bishop Luigi Padovese|
The president of the Turkish bishops’ conference has charged that the June killing of Bishop Luigi Padovese was an act of “premeditate murder” arranged by “ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics.”
Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini of Izmir, in an address to the Synod of Bishops, said that he felt compelled to speak out frankly to address the “intolerable slander” against the murder victim, Bishop Luigi Padovese. Shortly after Bishop Padovese was killed by his driver, Turkish media sources spread rumors about a homosexual affair between the two men. Archbishop Franceschini denounced those rumors, saying that they were “circulated by the very organizers of the crime.”
The driver who confessed to the killing, witnesses observed, shouted Islamic slogans immediately after his assault on Bishop Padovese. He had been employed by Bishop Padovese on the recommendation of government officials. Although the motivation for the killing remains unclear, Church officials are convinced that the murderer was affiliated with extremist groups.
Archbishop Franceschini noted, in his address to the Synod, that before his death Bishop Padovese had raised questions about the murders of several other Christians in Turkey, including Father Andrea Santoro. The string of killings, Archbishop Franceschini said, “is a murky story of complicity between ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics.”