Iskendur (AsiaNews) - The funeral of Bishop. Luigi Padovese was held yesterday afternoon in his cathedral at Iskenderun, Turkey. An immense crowd of the faithful came in large numbers from all the parishes of the Vicariate of Anatolia, a grieving church, gathered in prayer around its pastor, attended the funeral presided over by the apostolic nuncio in Turkey Mgr. Antonio Lucibello. Among the concelebrants Mgr. Ruggero Franceschini of Izmir Metropolitan Archbishop, Msgr. Louis Pelâtre, Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul, Istanbul's Armenian coadjutor, Archbishop Georges Khazzoum and the bishop of the Maronite Catholic Church of Antioch. Present, together with the Italian vice-consul, were representatives of local authorities, the mayor, the prefect and the police chief. Also present were members of Caritas Turkey and the Council of European Bishops' Conferences.
An ecumenical prayer service in Turkish, in Italian, but also in Armenian, Arabic and Latin. The bishops and priests of other Christian rites have mourned, indeed, prayed for the soul of their dear friend and brother. They were joined by the local mufti.
The touching the homily of Mgr. Franceschini: "The tragic news of the violent death of Mgr. Luigi Padovese left us aghast, unable to understand how it could something so horrible could have happened, especially against a clergyman, a bishop, a close friend of the Turks and Turkey. This land is thus confirmed, once again, the place of martyrdom for those who loved her so much. " Bishop Luigi Padovese has been called "a good person, a decent man" and he really was.
"He was deeply involved in the studies concerning the Church, especially the patristic period; he knew these places where the Church took its first steps perfectly and loved them with passion. Far more that this he loved the people this land. In the spirit of cooperation with local authorities, the very day before he died he had met with them to discuss religious minorities (of Turkish nationality) and find ways of collaborating for the common good. For us Christians, in particular, his death reminds us that fidelity to the Gospel, in certain situations, may be paid with the spilling of blood".
And he invited the whole Church of Turkey and all the men and women of good will to believe with all their strength in the dream of peace that can be achieved only by mutual forgiveness, by prayer and sacrifice, he spoke these words of encouragement and hope: "As a father, brother and friend, full of pain but forcefully remembering the venerable Pope John Paul II, I say to you, to you all: do not be afraid!
"Do not lose heart, be happy, like the Apostles, to live in suffering and trial, without abandoning your faith, which is why we hope, it is the foundation of our joy.
Yes, dear brothers, joy!
And nobody will be able to extinguish this torch, because it is sustained not only by the many martyrs and saints of these lands, the Blessed Virgin patron saint of this community, but today, I am sure, one more angel is now at the throne of God: our servant, our Bishop Luigi.
We wish him, brother of St. Francis, a priest of God Most High and Bishop of the Holy Church, to rest in peace beside his Lord.
With him, we here continue to pray that the sky this Middle East will once again be serene and our hearts rediscover the path of peace, harmonious co-existence in collaboration for the common good.
Finally, the Metropolitan of Smyrna wanted to remember the prayer that Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, on the day of the killing of Mgr. Padovese, in his native Milan, recited during the Mass of Corpus Christi:
Son of the Eternal and Son of Man,
never cease to invite and welcome us
to this wonderful feast of friendship,
so that our daily life,
the tasks of ministry,
the words we say,
the services we offer,
and even the dull stretches of our humanity
are a door and not a wall
for our brothers
a door that opens them to an encounter with You,
and the beauty of Your mystery
and not a wall that hides You and keeps You far from sight
“A door and not a wall" this was the life of Mgr. Padovese,
often under police escort and yet so free
in proclaiming the Gospel in arid land;
"A door and not a wall "- the church that he wanted,
a small flock open to the friendship of people;
"A door and wall" to welcome to the very end,
like you Lord Jesus,
the lacerations that inhabit the hearts of peoples and human beings,
even those of the one who so foolishly raised his hand
and for whom he continues to be both "brother" and "father."
The body, carried in a long procession, then left the town of Iskenderun. It will be buried in Milan, where, in the Cathedral, Monday, June 14 at 10.30 the funeral will take place again presided over by Card. Dionigi Tettamanzi.