02/05/2006, 00.00
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Italian priest killed in Trebisonda

by Mavi Zambak
Country in shock.  Televisions speak of shame for the murder of priest from diocese of Rome.

Ankara (AsiaNews) - All Christian churches are now being guarded, television news reports speak of shame for Turkey, also considering the fact that this criminal act took place in a sacred place.  All of Turkey is under shock. Fr Andrea Santoro, a "fidei donum" priest from the diocese of Rome, was killed as the result of two gun shots.  He had been working in Turkey for some 10 years. 

After having spent several years in Urfa, in southern Turkey near the border with Syria, Fr Santoro had been located in Trabson (the renowned Trebisonda on the Black Sea) for the past few years.  A difficult area due to the trafficking of prostitutes from the east as well as the lack of a stable Christian community.  It was for this very reason that Fr Andrea wanted to be there: to be a glimmer of hope, a witness of Christ's unconditional love.  And this is just how he is currently being remembered on television by his neighbours.  Shocked by how anyone could have wanted the murder of a friendly and kind person, a good neighbour to all.  A man of faith who spent many hours in church praying for the salvation of all. 

And yet, just this afternoon, at 3:30 p.m., as he was busy, just like every other day, opening his parish's Saint Mary Church, a young16-year old man did not hesitate to shoot him, to then disappear without a trace.  Fr Andrea's helper, Loredana, also from Rome, was with him at the time of the shooting, but was able to only get a glimpse of the killer's arm as he aimed to fire. 

Trabson is now being heavily guarded and the entire population is joining the local Church as it mourns and awaits the arrival of the Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, Monsignor Luigi Padovese, who immediately set out, travelling north by airplane, from diocese headquarters in Iskenderun, more than a thousand kilometres from the scene of the crime.  It will be up to this prelate to release a statement on the incident. 

In the meantime, security authorities having been saying on television that they will do everything possible to find the assassin.  Some say they already have suspects and are awaiting the results of the ballistic examinations on the two bullets left at the scene.

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See also
Nuncio in Ankara: Fr Andrea Santoro, a martyr for the third millennium
Two months on, Christians don't want "normality" after Fr Santoro's death
Fr Andrea Santoro: As if nothing ever happened
Time for reflection in the Church of Turkey in the wake of Fr Andrea's murder
So that Fr Andrea not be killed a second time


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