02/05/2006, 00.00
turkey - vatican
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Nuncio in Ankara: Fr Andrea Santoro, a martyr for the third millennium

by Bernardo Cervellera
Fundamentalism among assassin's motives: the killer shouted "Allah akhbar, Allah is great!"  But it could also be revenge by mafia controlling prostitution.

Ankara (AsiaNews) - Grief, but also "recognition", in the thoughts of the Vatican's nuncio in Ankara for the sacrifice of Fr Andrea Santoro, a "fidei donum" priest killed this afternoon in the Saint Mary Church of Trebizond (Trabzon in Turkish), nothern Turkey.  Contacted by telephone, Monsignor Antonio Lucibello, who took up his post as nuncio just over a month ago, told AsiaNews: "This is a source of great sorrow, but also a great recognition for this priest from the diocese of Rome who had committed himself to missionary work.  During the Great Jubilee we often had martyrdom mentioned as the Church's keynote.  Fr Andrea is a new martyr for this millennium.  Let us hope that his blood is the seed for new Christians.  Fr Andrea was a missionary just like Saint Paul who says: My duty is to evangelize." 

Archbishop Lucibella learned of Fr Andrea's assassination from Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, just minutes after the incident. 

According to initial reconstructions, Fr Andrea had, like every other afternoon, opened his church.  A young man entered and fired two shots at his back.  Exiting the church, the young man shouted something.  According to a young Turk who was near the priest, the killer yelled "Allah akbar, Allah is great".   

For the moment, suspicions are that motives involve fundamentalism and indignation over the Mohammad caricatures that have created much discontent and many protests in Turkey.  Bishop Padovese also said that the priest had been engaged in efforts to recuperate young women who worked the streets.  It could also be that he was killed as revenge on the part of mafia controlling prostitution. 

Archbishop Lucibello said that the Holy See has been informed, as has the Italian government.  A foreign ministry task force is already at work, as is Rome's police headquarters

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