The funeral Mass for Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of the Anatolia and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Turkey, was celebrated Tuesday morning at the Cathedral of Milan. The prelate was killed on June 3 as he prepared to accompany the Pope on his apostolic visit to Cyrpus.
Archbishop Edmond Farhat, who ordained Bishop Padovese on November 7, 2004, represented the Holy See at the Mass. Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan, who presided at the funeral and read a message from Pope Benedict.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi commented on the Mass, saying, “The Pope expressed his closeness and sorrow during his trip to Cyprus and continues to follow the story. The Secretary of State respects the competency of the Turkish justice system, which has assumed the task of investigating the murder.”
Yesterday the Holy Father named Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini of Izmir the new Apostolic Administrator of Anatolia.
After his appointment, the archbishop acknowledged his new mission would be “very difficult, as the Christian community has been shaken, but it is a young Christian community, and therefore, they are anxious to overcome this.”
“I spoke with young people and they are somewhat divided … But we will not be discouraged and we’ll do everything we can. I am convinced that we need to raise up this small and beautiful community, which wants to live and survive,” he told Vatican Radio.
The archbishop said the community of Anatolia was very angry and upset at the loss of their pastor, and that it was difficult to look to the future.
He noted that Bishop Padovese was very generous and opened his doors to others. He was not a wall, he was an open door. He worked with local officials to get Christian minorities recognized.”
“Bishop Padovese will be remembered as a good person, who continuously opened his arms to welcome everyone. Maybe he wasn’t prudent, but its hard to tell a bishop to be prudent!” he said.
“When someone is moved by apostolic zeal, he always moves forward, with a very open spirit, with the desire of always doing good. The Lord then does the rest,” Archbishop Franceschini said.