Bishop Luigi Padovese
Bishop Padovese was born on March 31st, 1947 in Milan, Italy. Shortly after turning 18, he entered the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor and took solemn vows in 1968. He studied and obtained his doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Afterwards, for sixteen years, he directed the Spirituality Institute at the Pontifical University Antonianum.
On October 11th, 2004, he was appointed the Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia. Apostolic vicariates are established in regions whose Roman Catholic population is too low for a diocese. His post was centered at the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun near the biblical city of Antioch. The province containing this town is also home to the cave Church of Saint Peter, where tradition holds that the disciple Peter held the first mass. It home to roughly 100 Roman Catholics, but over 2,000 Greek Orthodox Christians. The Muslim population is mostly adherents to the Alevi tradition, a more liberal strain of Islam.
On the morning of June 3rd, 2010, Bishop Padovese met with government authorities to discuss issues affecting the local religious minorities. That afternoon, roughly around 1:00PM, the bishop answered a knock at his door. His driver and assistant Murat Altun broke through the doorway and began stabbing the Bishop repeatedly with a fruit knife. According to witness testimony, the blade on his knife broke during the initial stabbing, allowing for Bishop Padovese to escape through the doorway into the garden space. The Bishop turned, embraced him in a hug before Murat pushed him to the ground. Producing a second fruit knife, he then shouted "Allahu Akbar" and slit the Bishop's knife. The autopsy confirmed the Bishop's death through "a spinal injury, throat injury and severe loss of blood".
Police arrested and detained Murat later that same day. According to press reports and the defendant's lawyer, Murat had been treated recently for depression and intitally spoke of the murder as non-religious. However, during the trial, Murat told the court room that he had killed the Bishop based on a private Islamic wahy (revelation) that the Bishop Padovese was a Dajjal (false messiah). Shortly after hearing the call to prayer in the court room, Murat began loudly shouting the adhan.
Father Fedrico Lombardi, the chief Vatican spokesman said in a statement:
“I can only express shock, worry and solidarity with the local Catholic community over this,”
"He was a courageous person dedicated to the Gospel, and his death, which spontaneously brings to mind that of Santoro, shows us how the Church's witness in certain situations, may even be paid in blood ."
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement:
“As he was a friend of Turkey, about which he produced important works, Padovese’s death is a significant loss, in religious and scientific terms, We express our condolences to our Christian citizens and the Catholic community.”
Fadi Hurigil, head of the Greek Orthodox Church Foundation of Antioch said:
“We are in a state of sadness and shock. This is something you would never expect in Hatay. It is a safe place,”
Murat Altun was sentenced to 15 years for the murder on January 22nd, 2013.