Following news of a second assassinated priest in one weekend, Pope Benedict XVI has sent his personal condolences to Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Apostolic Nuncio in Burundi, calling for an end to that country’s violence and what he called “works of death.”
Father Elie Koma, a Jesuit priest was killed on Saturday, February 4th, after becoming caught in a cross of fire between Burundi government soldiers, and rebel militia forces.
The letter, sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano in the Pope’s name said that "Upon learning about the tragic death of Fr. Elie Koma, S.J., the Holy Father asked me to express to all the members of his family and to his brother Jesuits his profound sorrow.”
Benedict, he said, offers “a fervent prayer to the Lord of Life for the dead and for all of those in mourning.”
“The Pope”, the message continues, “gives thanks for all the work accomplished by Fr. Koma in the service of the spiritual growth of those who have benefited from his apostolate.”
Likewise, Cardinal Sodano noted that “His Holiness also exhorts those who continue committing acts of violence to definitively renounce such works of death, so that the inhabitants of this country may live in peace and security.”
The Cardinal also expressed the Holy Father’s trust in the “maternal solicitude of Mary for those coming together in faith for the funeral,” adding that “the Holy Father sends you, as a sign of consolation, a special apostolic blessing, so that God may guard you in peace and in hope."
In addition to Fr. Elie, another priest, Father Andrea Santoro, a missionary priest from Rome was killed in Trabzon, Turkey over the weekend as he prayed in a church in which he had just celebrated Mass.