Monday, June 14, 2010

Christians and Muslims attend funeral of murdered bishop

Both Christians and Muslims from all over Turkey attended the funeral of murdered Bishop Luigi Padovese, apostolic vicar of Anatolia, in Iskanderun cathedral. Bishop Luigi was allegedly killed by his driver on 3 June.

In the homily delivered during celebration, Monsignor Ruggero Franceschini, archbishop of Smyrna, noted the passion that Monsignor Padovese had for Turkey and his love for the Turkish people. He said: “In the spirit of collaboration with local authorities on the day before he died, he met with them to discuss the issue of religious minorities in Turkey and to find ways of collaboration for the common good… With him, even we, right here, shall continue to pray such that upon this very Middle East the sky might become more serene, the hearts might find the road for peace, for a harmonious co-existence in the collaboration for the common good”.

Sümela service to popularize Trabzon as faith tourism destination

The Sümela Monastery, located in Trabzon province, will be open for worship for one day this year, with tourism professionals saying that the first service at the monastery could be the start of an influx of tourists traveling for faith-related purposes.

Turkish Association of Travel Agents (TÜRSAB) Black Sea regional executive board head Suat Gürkök said that Aug. 15 -- the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos according to the Orthodox liturgical calendar (also known as the Assumption of Mary) -- is a very significant holy day for Christians.

Gürkök said the monastery is an important contribution to both the country and the region’s tourism. “Opening the monastery for services [for a day] will provide some important income, but for these earnings to be high plans should be made so that visitors will stay overnight. In general, foreign tourists arrive in the morning via plane or by ship and then leave that same night. Their economic contribution to the region would be more if the infrastructure was there to encourage them to spend the night.”

“Faith tourism is a very delicate type of tourism,” Gürkök said. “With the slightest mistake, the damage caused is much bigger than the benefits the tourism brings. Although there are certain risks to it and it is usually short-lived, faith tourism contributes to the region’s economy, albeit slightly. This year’s service will be the first trial run. I hope it goes wonderfully.”

He said normally 1,500 people attend illegal, unofficial services at the monastery, saying he expected this number to double or even triple this year. He said the monastery’s infrastructure was not adequate to fit more than a certain number of people. “If the number of people attending the service is too much, perhaps this should be limited, the same way there is a quota for the Muslim pilgrimage. This first service is very important, so we’ll have an idea for the following years.”


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Catholic bishop in Turkey murdered by driver

A Catholic bishop in southern Turkey was found stabbed to death Thursday and his driver arrested for the alleged murder, according to Turkish media reports.

Bishop Luigi Padovese, the Vicar Apostolic for the Anatolia region, was found dead in his summer home in the city of Iskendrun, in the Hatay region on Turkey's Mediterranean coast.

It was not immediately clear what the motive of the killing was.

The Hatay region is home to an ancient, but dwindling, community of Christians who have lived in the area since Roman times.

In recent years, nationalist extremists in Turkey on several occasions have attacked or kidnapped Christian clergymen in the country.

Luigi Padovese took up his post in Iskenderun in November 2004.