Saturday, March 04, 2006

Fr. Santoro and the inaction of Turkish Authorities

I read the headline and was filled with anger and sorrow:

Fr Andrea Santoro: As if nothing ever happened (link)

This is not right. If you read the article you see what is going on, but I'll give some quotes to vent here:

Now, it is as if nothing as happened for the media, which now and again fans the flames with their accusations of proselytism; everything seems to have returned to a chilling normality.

Perhaps what people fail to realize is that Fr. Santoro was not killed just by the boy who shot him (Later you will see that is in doubt as well) but by the whole attitude that Turkey promotes. To return to normality is to return to the attitude that caused the murder.

On 28 February, the national daily newspaper Vatan, reported once again that Fr Andrea used to hand out dollars to invite youth to church. And once again, the bishop of Anatolia, Mgr Luigi Padovese has been forced to cry out: “If there really was such a great distribution of money by Fr Andrea – as the newspapers seem to claim – for proselytism, then how come baptisms in his parish of St Mary in Trabzon were not adding up? I knew my fidei donum priest well, and I exclude such a hypothesis. If he had done this, he would not have had ‘only’ three or four catechumens coming to his church. The truth is that proselytism is an alibi, which is being resorted to in order to refuel a controversy which is both anti-Christian and anti-western.”

So Mgr Padovese has had to appoint a Christian lawyer, a friend of his, to take legal action against newspapers that made these baseless accusations, managing to secure the publication of some corrections.

And still the authorities keep silent.

The fact that papers say that proselytism would be an excuse for the murder should wake the west up about this. In many nations to convert people is a death penalty, but think about that for a second. If the western world really wants to understand what Christians face in these places, just run this through your head:

A person lives a Christian life. They are happy, they care for people and follow Christ in action, word and spirit. People see this and decide that maybe there is something to this thing called Christianity. Because of that, you can be killed. And the media would blame it on you. And the public would accept that. It's bloody madness.

Going by the testimony of Loredana, a young pastoral collaborator of Fr Andrea, who only managed to catch a glimpse of the murderer’s silhouette, and to hear his voice at the moment of the shot, it seems his bulk was much bigger and his tone of voice, when he shouted “God is great”, was much deeper than that of a mere boy.

For the moment, police investigations are not giving anything away. It is feared that they are doing their utmost to close the case: an arrest to placate consciences and to cover the tracks of a bigger fish.

If as they say, the crime was the isolated action of a weak-minded boy, then how come today, a month after Fr Santoro’s murder, churches, priests and religious are still being kept under strict surveillance by police? The residents of Trabzon and the Turkish population do not seem to be too interested in this question. The issue has not drawn much attention

Ok, so the one person says it was not the boy. The authorities say it was because it is easier for them if it was.

Tomorrow, St Mary’s church will be reopened, and at the same hour of the afternoon as a month ago, a simple mass in suffrage will be celebrated. Fr Pierre Brunissen, parish priest of the church of Samsun – another Turkish city on the eastern coast of the Black Sea – will say mass, with a small group of Christians and under police guard, given that this elderly French priest has also received several threats by phone. He has also had “not very pleasant visits” to his church by a group of youth, most recently some days ago: they shouted threats and tore up placards. The mass will be a small light of faith and hope which is bigger than fear and indifference.

This small community is still under attack. Think about that: A priest is murdered. The authorities say it was a random act. But people are now sending threats to the priest who had come to say mass when the church reopens. It does not sound like a random act to me.

Lord, I pray you protect those who suffer for their faith. Give them strength. And give us the strength to champion thier cause in whatever way we can.


erudit said...

Hello David. This rumor that Christians hand out dollars, or put dollars in the front of New Testaments they hand out, to try to lure people to convert to Christianity is an old and persistent line in Turkey. It's amazing that they keep repeating it in their media, as it's so laughable. But, anything to try to stir people up and cast the blame away from violence by Muslims.

This is difficult news of Fr. Santoro. I met an Italian priest in Turkey and he was such a kind man, I'm reminded of him when I read this.

Trabzon is a dangerous place for Christians. The Muslim fundamentalists are stirring people there like they can't even do in the southeast. Bursa is another. All the more reason to pray for these cities, which hopefully will happen now that we've had a martyr there.

DavidNic said...

God works in strange ways. The more I read about Fr. Santoro, the more hw seems to me to have been a very holy man.

Christians all over the world who suffer like this have my prayers

Bent El Neel said...

hey erudit
Such rumors are rife all over the Muslim world. In Egypt, they say that charity organisation are out to convert Muslims to Christianity. It is indeed laughable, but the media's persistence in saying these things only serves to allienate Christians and foster mistrust and hatred toward them.