.- Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, was reportedly stabbed to death in Iskendurun, Turkey on Thursday by his driver, who also served as his aide.
According to Italy's ANSA news agency, Turkish police have detained the alleged killer and have not yet established a motive.
Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey, Archbishop Antonio Lucibello told the news agency that "from what I've learned, Bishop Padovese's driver, Murat, admitted his responsibility. It's strange because I've always seen this man as a very devoted person to Padovese and always obliging."
Fr. Federico Lombardi said through Vatican Radio that the "terrible" news of the loss of the president of Turkish bishops "leaves us deeply shocked" and "desperately sorry."
He remembered the bishop for his "great merits" in providing a witness to the Church's life in spite of difficulty in Turkey.
Bishop Padovese, a member of the Capuchin order, had been the Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia since 2004 after working in Rome for over a decade.
He "was a courageous person dedicated to the Gospel," said Fr. Lombardi, and his death, "which spontaneously brings to mind that of Santoro, shows us how the Church's witness in certain situations, may even be paid in blood ."
Fr. Santoro was killed four years ago in a church in Trabzon, Turkey while praying.
The Vatican spokesman said that while the circumstances and motives surrounding the killing must be investigated to better understand what happened, regardless, his remains "a life donated for the Gospel.
"This fact, on the eve of a papal trip towards the Middle East, to encourage the Christian communities living in this region, lends an extraordinary intensity, helping us to profoundly understand the urgent need for the solidarity of the universal Church to support these Christian communities.”
Bishop Padovese was planning on going to Cyprus tomorrow to meet with the Holy Father and receive the working document for the coming Special Assembly of Middle Eastern Bishops in October.