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Pope's emotional tribute to slain priest


Pope Benedict XVI drew an emotional reaction from the crowd at his regular weekly audience yesterday when he mentioned the Italian priest who was killed in Turkey three days earlier.

"We cannot fail to remember Fr Andrea Santoro today," the Holy Father said. The crowd of 8000 people rose for a lengthy ovation in tribute to the slain missionary.

As the applause ebbed, the Pope continued with a prayer for the repose of Fr Santoro's soul, adding a petition that "the sacrifice of his life may contribute to dialoue between religious and peace among peoples."

The Pope disclosed that he had received a letter from Fr Santoro recently, in which the priest offered "a moving testimony to his love and adherence to Christ and his Church." In the letter, dated 31 January, Fr Santoro offered "a mirror of his priestly sould," the Pope said. He indicated that the letter will soon be published in L'Osservatore Romano.

Pope Benedict added that he had read another letter, from a member of the tiny Catholic community in Trabzon, Turkey, where Fr Santoro served. It, too, offered a powerful indication of "devotion and love for Christ," he said. The parishioner's letter asked the Pope to visit the Black Sea port town during his trip to Turkey in November of this year.

The body of Fr Santoro, who was a priest of the Rome diocese, was returned to Rome on February 7. His funeral will be in the Basilica of St. John Lateran tomorrow.

Although a 16-year-old Turkish boy has confessed to the killing, saying that he was prompted by rage over the cartoons in European newspapers mocking Mohammed, some Christians in Turkey harbour lingering doubts about the crime, Bishop Luigi Padovese of Anatolia told journalists. The bishop explained that Christians in the region, live amid hostility in an overwhelmingly Muslim community. Some Christians question whether the killing was an isolated act, or part of an orchestrated anti-Christian campaign.

SOURCE
Emotional tribute to slain priest at papal audience (Catholic World News 8/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Benedict XVI General Audience - text (8/2/06)

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9 Feb 2006