An Italian Vatican expert is saying that Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia and President of the Turkish Bishops’ Conference, canceled his trip to Cyprus because he feared that his driver –who later confessed to killing the bishop- might attempt an attack on Pope Benedict XVI during his stay on the island.
Analyst Fr. Fillippo di Giacomo, who writes for publications such as L’Unitá and La Stampa, revealed that “hours before Padovese was killed, the Turkish Government called him to say that his driver, who they themselves had put in his service four years before, had gotten out of hand. That is to say, he had embraced the fundamentalist cause.”
Speaking to the Spanish daily El Pais, Fr. di Giacomo added that “knowing this, Padovese canceled the tickets he had reserved to Cyprus for himself and Altun (his driver). He preferred to stay home rather than to make the trip because he feared that his driver would take advantage of his proximity to the Pope and make an attempt on his life.”
According to El Pais, “the death of the Capuchin Franciscan bishop, known as an intellectual open to Islam, and who adored Turkey, occurred at a dramatic moment in the Middle East, right after Israel killed nine people (eight Turks and an American) in their assault on the humanitarian flotilla in international waters that attempted to pass through the Israeli blockade of Gaza.”
Another less-covered topic, which is nevertheless of concern to the Vatican, was the expulsion of 28 Christians from Morocco, El Pais added. The Spanish daily argued that the Moroccan government took advantage of the international chaos to deport the missionaries who worked with the poor because they “perturbed the mentality of the good Muslim.”
In his interview with the Spanish daily, Fr. di Giacomo asserted that the expulsion was a consequence of the “fatwa promulgated by 7,300 Moroccan Muslim doctors who recently declared that Christian charity ought to be considered religious terrorism.”
During the celebration of Bishop Padovese’s funeral Mass, the Turkish TV station NTV announced that the 26 year-old driver, Murat Altun, had confessed to killing the bishop. He died after being stabbed 25 times, eight of them in his heart, and was almost completely decapitated by Altun, who said he murdered Bishop Padovese because he had received a “divine inspiration.”
NTV added that Altun shouted “Allahu Akbar” a number of times after the murder, despite having presented himself as a Catholic.