Benedict XVI Praises Slain Nun

Remembers Sister Leonella Sgorbati at Angelus

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 24, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI paid homage to the memory of an Italian woman religious who pardoned her killers as she lay dying from an attack in Somalia.



"Some are asked to give the supreme testimony of blood," for the sake of Christ, "as happened a few days ago to the Italian religious, Sister Leonella Sgorbati, who fell victim to violence," the Pope told the crowds that gathered today at the papal summer residence south of Rome for his weekly Angelus address.

"This nun, who for many years served the poor and the children in Somalia, died pronouncing the word 'pardon,'" the Holy Father recalled. "This is the most authentic Christian witness, a peaceful sign of contradiction which shows the victory of love over hate and evil."

Sister Leonella, a missionary who worked in a pediatrics hospital in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu, was shot by two gunmen on Sept. 17.

Last Monday, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, addressing the Permanent Council of the Italian bishops' conference, pointed to a possible link between the slaying and the controversy that followed Benedict XVI's address in Regensburg that mentioned Islam.

No other path

"No doubt, following Christ is difficult," Benedict XVI said today, "but, as he says, only the one who loses his life for the sake of the Gospel will save it. … There exists no other path to be his disciple, there is no other path to witness to his love and tend toward evangelical perfection."

The Pope started his address mentioning the day's Gospel passage from the liturgy.

"Jesus announced to his disciples for the second time his passion, death and resurrection," he said. "The Evangelist Mark highlights the strong contrast between his mentality and that of the Twelve Apostles, who not only didn't understand the words of the Master and clearly rejected the idea that he was going to meet death, but also disputed over who among them was to be considered 'the greatest.'

"Jesus patiently explains to them his logic, the logic of love that involves service up to the gift of self: 'If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.'"

"This is the logic of Christianity," the Holy Father said, "which responds to the truth of man created in the image of God, but at the same time it contrasts with his egoism, a consequence of original sin."