12/17/2007, 00.00
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Izmir, knifed friar refused to baptise aggressor

by Mavi Zambak
According to eyewitnesses, the assailant had attended Bayrakli parish, Izmir for over three years. The attack took place after the capuchin’s last in a series of refusals to baptise him: he still wasn’t ready. Msgr. Franceschini to AsiaNews: “They will claim that he is mad, but if so then the number of madmen has considerably increased, and they only attack religious and Christian foreigners”.

Izmir (AsiaNews) – The assailant, who knifed Fr. Adriano Franchini in the stomach this morning, reacted after the latest in a series of refusals of his requests to be baptised. The Capuchin friar, Superior of the Custody of Turkey, did not consider him ready to become a Christian.

Currently Fr. Franchini – a native in Modena – is in hospital in a reserved condition.  Eyewitnesses say that the priest was attacked by a “hooligan”, who has been attending the parish for the last three years.  The reason behind the attack- according to the young man’s confession to police – the latest refusal of baptism, which he has long desired.

Bishop of Izmir, Msgr. Ruggero Franceschini, in forlorn comments to AsiaNews: “Yet again they will insist that this is the act of a madman.  But then we have to admit that for the last year and a half the number of madmen in Turkey has risen sharply, particularly against foreign Christian religious.  A lot of talk is being made about the rights of the religious minorities in Turkey, of increased democracy, but these types of acts certainly do not promote the best of images of a Turkey that wants to be democratic and secular”.

Often Christian priests in Turkey are cautious about baptising, because often the new catechumens reveal themselves to be provokers who then accuse Christians of proselytism.  In any case attacks against foreign religious in Turkey are on the increase.

After the death of Don Andrea Santoro, a fidei donum priest assassinated on February 5th 2006 while he was praying in his Parish Church of Our Lady’s in Trabzon, there have been various other attacks against the Christian community.

In February 2006 a group of young people attacked Fr . Martin Kmetec a young Franciscan in Izmir. The following month, a man armed with a knife entered the parish of Mersin threatening to kill the Franciscans there as well as some of the young people gathered in the parish grounds. July of the same year, a French Catholic priest Fr. Pierre Brunissen, was knifed by “drug addicts”. He had only just re-opened don Santoro’s Church.



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