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RU 21/2010 - BELGIUM, TURKEY


BELGIUM (ru, June 5th 2010): Since the end of April, the parochial church of Gilly, a town situated at some kilometres from Charleroi in Wallonia, serves presently every Friday as temporary mosque: muezzin on the bell-tower, transverse carpets in the main nave, shoes and women let at the entry, men on the floor in provocative prayer position, sermon of the imam in Arabic. It’s the Catholic priest of this church, Father Henry Remy, already aged 89, who had proposed this fraternal rent, without having asked his bishop, to the 300 practicing Muslims of his city, when these were deprived of their usual cult place by the closing down of the mosque by the township for reasons of insecurity. At the time of the Muslim ceremonies, the holy pictures and Christian statuaries are hidden, “not to shock our faithful", as explains the imam. “These are for the Muslims idolatrous representations.”  Protests came up from everywhere in Belgium, and even the competent bishop of Tournai Mgr. Guy Harpigny pretends that he is “absolutely opposed to this church rental", but “what can I do, this priest does what he wants, I cannot send the police!". The brave priest defends himself saying that he wanted, by his charitable gesture, open the way "to the dialogue, the prayer and the communion between the religious communities of the city". And he explained his conviction: "One prays to the same God, but differently. Each has its way to pray. Now, it’s necessary to start some dialogues".

TURKEY (ru, June 5th 2010): At the same time one can read – indeed in very few newspapers only -  that the archbishop  of Iskanderun, the former Alexandrette of the Crusaders, has been murdered by his Muslim car driver on June 3rd at 1 PM in the garden of his residence. Police detected knife cuts “at the throat and the stomach". Let's say it more clearly: he was butchered! The victim is Mgr Luigi Padovese, aged 63, Italian, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia since 2004 and president of the conference of the Catholic bishops in Turkey. His assassin, a certain Murat Altun, 26, declared to the police: "I had a (divine) revelation, and I killed him." Like after every murder of Christians in Turkey, the Turkish authorities immediately declared this man as a mentally deficient (astonishing for an excellent driver, since 4 ½ years, of the most important bishop in Turkey!), which interpretation prepares already his lenient judgment. In recent years, several wild murders of priests or missionaries in Turkey dramatically highlighted the way in which those Muslims understand the "dialogue" offered by the Christians. In February 2006, Father Andrea Santoro, Catholic priest at Trabzond on the Black Sea, has been killed by two bullets from the rear side by a young Muslim aged 16 during his silent prayers after his Sunday Mass. It was precisely Mgr Padovese who had celebrated the funeral ceremony of Father Santoro in Trabzond, while declaring on this occasion that the unique way forward for the Christians in Turkey was the one “of dialogue, reciprocal knowledge, proximity and sympathy”. In 2007 three Protestant missionaries were ritally slaughtered at Malatya in Anatolia by five young Muslims. Their main mission was to print the Bible in Turkish language. The court suit of the murderers didn't even start yet, in spite of innumerable protests, lamentations and other crocodile tears in the Turkish newspapers. On this June 4th, 2010, Benedict XVI called the murdered bishop Padovese, during a press conference in his plane towards Cyprus, “a very generous witness of the Gospel, firmly committed to the dialogue and the reconciliation that characterized all his priestly life and his Episcopal ministry". He added, while commenting this murder: "This shade has nothing to do with the themes and the reality of my journey, because we must not assign this fact to Turkey or to the Turks". Further: "We don't want to mix up this tragic situation with the dialogue with Islam. This is an isolated case that shouldn’t harm in any way the dialogue with the Muslims". And finally: "We all are God's children, mutually brothers and sisters!" One is not far from the poor Fr Henry Remy in Gilly in Belgium who presently rents his parochial church to the Muslims. - One knows that the pope carried with him towards Cyprus a some guidelines ("instrumentum laboris") which must orient the discussions of the bishops convened from October 10th to 24th in Rome for a Synod for the Middle Orient. Therefore, one can suppose that one of the pillars of his recommendations will be again THE DIALOGUE: "The violence is not the solution, but the patience in the good". A question emerges spontaneously from the bottom of our Catholic consciences: thus, between the violence and the dialogue, there should not exist any other way of doing? For example courageous firmness, in the Charity of Christ Our Savior? The courageous announcement of the Good News to the pagans, as St. Paul did it precisely in these regions, which preaching brought him so many times immediately into jail? But jail, nobody wants that any more in the Church. One wants to avoid jail by gentle dialogues around a cup of tea with those who persecute Christ and his Church. Result: one makes oneself gently - slaughtered.

-  O.A.M.D.G.  - 



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