Friday, February 10, 2006

Our latest martyr

Priest Killed in Turkey a Martyr, Says Cardinal Ruini

Announces Intention to Open Process of Beatification

ROME, FEB. 10, 2006 ( Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for Rome, announced his intention to open the process of beatification and canonization of the priest killed last Sunday in Turkey.

The announcement -- which the cardinal included in his homily during the funeral service for the priest of Rome's Diocese in the Basilica of St. John Lateran -- was greeted with applause.

The faithful also applauded when the cardinal quoted the priest's mother: "Don Andrea's mother forgives with all her heart the person who armed himself to kill her son and feels great sorrow for him, because he is also a son of the one God, who is love."

Cardinal Ruini spoke of the Father Santoro's mission to Turkey, where he was needed as a Fidei Donum priest, "gift of faith, sent by Rome to make Christ present in those lands where the Christian faith had taken robust and fecund roots at the beginning."

Father Santoro began his stay in Turkey in 2000, first in Urfa, later in Trabzon, where "with joy and confidence he continued to pray, trying to do good while respecting the local laws, up to last Sunday," recalled the Pope's vicar.

"We must reject with indignation the absurd and slanderous accusations and insinuations of illicit means to obtain conversions, completely rooted out by his rigorous conscience as Christian and priest," said the cardinal.

"Father Andrea took Jesus Christ very seriously," the Pope's vicar said, "and tried with all his strength to move always and rigorously in the logic of Christ," being "inseparably a man of faith and witness of Christian love," said the cardinal.

He was guided by a "simple conviction: Jesus Christ gave his life on the cross and therefore a disciple of Christ, especially a priest, must in turn love everyone and spend himself for all, without distinction."


A "man of penetrating intelligence," Father Santoro "knew well that in that land and among those peoples his apostolic drive would have to accept very many limitations and, indeed, he had accepted them and interiorized them serenely," said Cardinal Ruini.

"He was convinced that the presence of prayer and testimony of life would speak for itself, would be an effective sign of Jesus Christ and leaven of love and reconciliation," he continued.

The cardinal pointed out that Father Santoro had "Christian courage, that typical courage of which the martyrs have given proof, through the centuries, on innumerable occasions," and which "has its root in the union with Jesus Christ, in the strength that comes from Him, in such a mysterious as well as real and concrete way."

The priest's accused murdered admitted that he was driven by hatred aroused by the publication the caricatures of Mohammed published in the Western press, which in recent days have sparked protests in several Muslim countries.

Canon law states that unless there is a specific disposition of the Pope for the process of beatification to begin, the prescribed period of five years will come into effect.

Photo: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

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