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Intervention of Mons. Ruggero FRANCESCHINI, President of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey (TURKEY)

Mons. Ruggero FRANCESCHINI, Archbishop of Izmir, Apostolic Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia, President of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey (TURKEY):

The little Church of Turkey, at times ignored, had its famous moment of sadness with the brutal assassination of the President of the Turkish Episcopal Conference, Mons. Luigi Padevese. Briefly, I would like to close this unpleasant parenthesis, erasing intolerable slander circulated by the same organizers of the crime. Because this is about premeditated murder, by those same obscure powers that poor Luigi had just a few months earlier pointed out as those responsible for the assassinations of Father Andrea Santoro, of the Armenian journalist Dink and the four Protestants of Malatya; that is, a dark plot of complicity between ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics, experts in schemes of tension. The pastoral and administrative situation in the Vicariate of Anatoly is serious. The reasons are:
1) The divisions within the Christian community, already fragile in itself;
2) The “careless” management of the finances of the entire Vicariate by the secretary of the deceased Bishop;
3) The very serious lack of missionary workers.
What do we ask of the Church? Simply that which we are missing: a Pastor, someone to help him, the means to do so, and all of this with reasonable urgency.
Until now, the weight of extraordinary management of this situation has been carried exclusively by the Archdiocese of Smirne.
We are an ancient Church, as poor as we are rich in a tradition such as that about which only Jerusalem and Rome can boast. Of course, we will not start now to complain or cry misery, it is not our custom, and far be it from us to even think of pursuing vengeance by drawing particular attention on the murder of the President of our Episcopal Conference, but certainly our people and those who have shed blood deserve special attention.
Forgive my venting: I beg you to share with us this situation which can be overcome, in short order, at least in two ways: the nomination of a new pastor and economic support.
Clearly, the sending of new missionary workers depends on other factors which may require more time, but this must not lead us to believe that it is a less important point.
The survival of the Church of Anatoly is at risk, and this is a situation in which I ask you, gravely and urgently, to participate. Nonetheless, I wish to reassure the nearby Churches, especially those who suffer persecution and are seeing their own faithful becoming exiles, that, like CET, we will remain open to welcome and fraternal aid, even beyond our abilities; just as we are open to all pastoral cooperation with our sister Churches and with positive lay Muslims, for the good of Christians living in Turkey, and for the good of the poor and numerous refugees in Turkey.
May the birthplace of the original Church be the home of the united Church.

[00136-02.04] [IN096] [Original text: Italian]


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