06/06/2011, 00.00
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Nuncio in Turkey: Church is respected in wake of Mgr. Padovese, but full religious freedom is needed

Mass held yesterday in Iskenderun for the one year anniversary of the bishop’s murder. Mgr. Lucibello urges a shift from "presence to witness." Continuous signs of respect for Catholics. Freedom of religion also means freedom not to believe and to change one’s religion.

Ankara (AsiaNews) - A year after the assassination of Archbishop. Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, the small Turkish church is still "marked by pain”, but is also witnessing signs of interest towards Christianity and is" hopeful ". The key point is the guarantee of religious freedom. So says Mgr. Antonio Lucibello, Apostolic Nuncio in the country. On the afternoon of June 4 the Vatican diplomatic left for Iskenderun, where the aftermath there was a mass in memory of the sacrifice of the bishop, who was killed by his driver 3 June 2010. The Mass, celebrated by Mgr. Ruggero Franceschini, Archbishop of Izmir (Smyrna), was also attended by representatives of other Churches, Catholic, Orthodox and Armenian.

"Our presence here in Turkey - said Mgr. Lucibello - is inconsistent from the numerical point of view: in all we are like a small parish in a small village in the West. Yet our discreet witness bears fruit and there is respect and a following. "

During this year, marked by the martyrdom of Archbishop. Padovese and other signs of violence, the Nuncio said the Church has been able to further its mission. "The Church is experiencing a shift 'from presence to witness'. This slogan was used in a church conference in Turkey in the late '80s and remains important. "

"There is no need for a noisy presence, announced by 'beating drums’. Instead it is essential to have a living witness, a discreet witness, one that is not imposed through theatrics".

The humility of witness continued, the nuncio - corrects the existing impression of the Catholic Church seen here as a powerful organization. Taking account of these feelings is crucial. "

Mgr. Lucibello is hopeful for Turkey’s progress towards Europe. But he also points out that a fundamental issue is religious freedom. "That freedom means not only freedom of worship but also of conscience. Importantly, a person must be able to believe or not believe, or even to change religion. " He explains that at a meeting organized by the Marmara Foundation a few months ago, he emphasized these elements and received the praise and support from young people working in hospitality and some businessmen.

The nuncio also expressed a desire among Catholics in Turkey for more opportunities for interaction and mixed education. "Being a minority often leads us to live in isolation. Instead, it is important to have opportunities to perceive that we are part of a whole ".


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