Speaking about the June 3 murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Turkey, a missionary priest working in the country said the bishop’s death “is a call to unity in the Church and among Christians.”
In an interview with Fides news agency, the priest, who preferred to remain anonymous for safety reasons, said the crime against Bishop Padovese “is also a call to strengthen the ecumenical spirit and work untiringly for the unity of all Christian denominations.”
“We are experiencing a strong call to develop a pastoral practice based the model of those who have lived authentic faith in Muslim environment,” the priest said. “In Turkey today the Islamist and nationalist forces have been stirred up and are hostile towards the Catholic Church and her representatives,” he added.
He noted that “the Christian community is experiencing difficulties due to the lack of official recognition and the obstacles that still exist for religious worship.” The priest pointed to the case of the Church of St. Paul in the city of Tarsus, which has been transformed by Turkish officials into a museum that “Christians can only visit by purchasing a ticket and where Mass can be celebrated only by reserving dates ahead of time.”
Bishop Padovese was working towards getting the church turned back over to the Christian community, “but this has not yet occurred and we don’t know if it really will.”
“The murder of Bishop Padovese has produced fear, confusion and uncertainty. But let us not lose hope and trust in Providence,” the priest stated.