Suspect charged in Turkey priest stabbing, victim released from hospital

Father Adriano Franchini was released from a hospital Wednesday after treatment for wounds he suffered when he was attacked after Sunday Mass, the Associated Press reports.

The attack took place in the port city of Izmir.  Before the attack, the priest was approached by a young man who said he was seeking information on Christianity.  Father Franchini invited the man to Mass, after which the two briefly discussed conversion to Christianity.  The man suddenly became furious and stabbed the priest, slightly wounding him in the stomach.

Father Franchini, who heads the Capuchin order in Turkey, declined to answer questions about the discussion he had with his attacker.  He said he did not want the attack to be exaggerated.

On Wednesday a prosecutor charged a 19-year-old man with stabbing and wounding with a knife.  No trial date was set.

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.

Christians compose less than one percent of Turkey’s 70 million people.

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