Expresses Christian and Muslim Hopes for Peace
ANKARA, Turkey, APRIL 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The vicar apostolic of Anatolia expressed hopes that religions could join to defeat violence, after three Christians were killed last week at a Bible publishing house.
After the slayings on Wednesday in Malatya, in eastern Turkey, Bishop Luigi Padovese said: "This latest episode has profoundly disturbed us. … We do not yet know the organization behind this bloody deed."
Three people were killed -- one a German citizen -- and one person was wounded in the assault on Zirve Publishing, where the victims were at work. Initial erroneous statements reported that the fourth victim died from his wounds.
Authorities in Ankara have said today that the police have arrested 10 people in connection with the murders and are questioning witnesses.
Among the suspects are some members of the Islamic nationalist group The Gray Wolves, who have threatened the publishing house in the past.
According to Bishop Padovese: "We cannot exclude that the recent insistence on the danger posed by Christian missionaries to the national and religious identity of Turkey has played a role in inciting this incident.
"But how many are there of these missionaries who are seen as a phenomenon of destabilization? Perhaps 100. But what do they mean to a population of over 70 million? I think, therefore, that in these actions there was an attempt to strike at a symbol."
Bishop Padovese said that on Wednesday, he had participated with local religious and civil authorities in a celebration of the birth of Mohammed.
"I observed their regret and sadness over this bloody violence," 57-year-old vicar apostolic said. "I was struck by the mufti of Antioch's testimony before the crowd that was gathered. 'If we are afraid of those who distribute the Gospel,' he said, 'this means that our faith is very weak.'"
"Faced with these incidents," Bishop Padovese affirmed, "I believe that it is a good thing to promote common 'symbolic' actions with Turkish religious leaders so that our unity is seen and all, Christians and Muslims, are shown that we consider violence in the name of God a blasphemy against God."
He continued: "It is in this common action of dialogue, that on May 12-13 here in Iskenderun, in the house that we have dedicated to Father Andrea Santono, there will be a Muslim-Christian symposium on the Word of God in Christianity and in Islam.
"I believe that a meeting such as this should serve to isolate the violent acts of some irresponsible people and show that in Turkey the desire for dialogue prevails over that of confrontation."