Bishop Asked Prayers for Mideast Before His Murder

Prelate Slain in Turkey Wrote Nuns About "Martyred Land"

| 2249 hits

ROME, SEPT. 23, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The fruitfulness of forgiveness opposed to the sterility of hatred and vengeance is the key to peace in the Middle East, reflected the president of Turkey's episcopal conference in a letter he wrote just two months before he was murdered.

Italian-born Bishop Luigi Padovese, who served as vicar apostolic of Anatolia, Turkey, wrote this on April 3 in a letter to a convent of Poor Clares. Two months later, the 63-year-old prelate was killed by his driver in Iskenderun.

The letter -- addressed to Sister Chiara Laura Seroboli, abbess of the Monastery of St. Clare of Camerino, Italy, referred to the upcoming canonization of the convent's founder, Blessed Camilla Battista da Varano. The canonization will happen on Oct. 17, precisely during the synod of bishops on the Middle East.

The bishop's April 3 letter was published in full by the Poor Clares in Italy.

"The Churches of the Middle East have endured situations of great tribulation for years, which often culminate in acts of real persecution, as happens, sadly, every day in Iraq and in other countries," he wrote.

The bishop, who collaborated in the working document for the synod, said that it is "no accident that the central topic of the synod is 'The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness.'"

"Benedict XVI himself, on choosing the topic, wished to stress the need and thirst for peace that the Middle East experiences," he reflected. "The Pope's proposal invites us to reflect above all on the communion and witness that the Church is called to give in the context of such a tormented territory as our own."

Heroic love

Bishop Padovese asked the nuns of Camerino to pray so that "this martyred land may transform so much pain into an invocation for peace and proclamation of forgiveness."

Referring to the upcoming canonization, he added that the "tragic political events that affected Camilla Battista's family, going so far as the killing of her loved ones and her exile, even in their tragic nature, did not defeat this woman. She had the inner strength to pray for her enemies to the point of transforming the hatred of which she was the object into an occasion of forgiveness and heroic love."

"These same virtues, today, 500 years later, are a model for the whole Church and for all people," Bishop Padovese wrote. "Because of this, I can say that, also for the Christians of our communities vexed by persecution and violence, Blessed Camilla Battista can become an example of reconciliation and an occasion to rediscover hope by going to the source of the passion of Christ."