Priest stabbed in Turkey

A Catholic priest was stabbed in the stomach and hospitalized on Sunday, the Associated Press reports, adding to the numbers of Turkish attacks on Catholic clergy in recent years.

Father Adriano Franchini was in the Agean port city of Izmir when a man in his early 20s approached him, saying he wanted information on Christianity.  An argument broke out between the two, and the man stabbed the priest.  The attacker was later detained by authorities.

An Italian embassy official said the priest was in surgery.  He said there was no information on the motive for the attack or its precise details.

Father Franchini heads the Church of St. Mary in nearby Ephesus.

The attack recalls other recent violent incidents against clergy.  In February 2006, a 16-year-old boy shot a Catholic priest to death as he prayed inside his church in the Black Sea city of Trabzon.  A priest was attacked and threatened in Izmir later that year, and another was stabbed in the Black Sea port of Samsun.  In November 2007, an Assyrian cleric was abducted in southeast Turkey and rescued by security forces.

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