Fr. Andrea Santoro
Fr. Andrea Santoro a 60-year-old Italian priest who was part of the Vatican’s “Fidei Donum” program, which sends priests to help in the missions for a fixed period of time. In the afternoon of Feb. 5, the Italian priest was shot twice while he was praying in his parish, St. Mary Church, in the Black Sea coastal city of Trebizond.
Father Santoro, from the Diocese of Rome, had been serving in Turkey for about 10 years,
Murdered Priest’s Letter to Benedict XVI
“A Visit of Yours Would Be a Consolation”
Here is a translation of a letter dated Jan. 31 and written to the Pope by Father Andrea Santoro, the Italian missionary who was shot and killed last Sunday in his parish church in Trabzon, Turkey. Benedict XVI directed that the letter be published in the Italian edition of L’Osservatore Romano. According to the Pontiff, the letter “reflects the zeal, faith and love that beat in the Don Andrea Santoro’s heart.”
Content of Fr. Santoro’s letter to Pope Benedict XVI
Rome, January 31, 2006
I am writing to you in the name of some Georgian ladies of my parish, St. Mary’s in Trabzon (Trebisonda) on the Black Sea, Turkey. They dictated it to me in Turkish, I have translated it for you exactly as it came from their lips and I give it to you on the occasion of my visit to Rome. I am don Andrea Santoro, a Fidei Donum priest of the Church of Rome in Turkey, in the Diocese of Anatolia, resident here for the past 5 years. My flock is made up of 8/9 Catholics, many Orthodox of the city, and Muslims, who make up 99% of the population. You, Holiness, are both the Bishop of my native diocese (Rome) as well as Bishop of my diocese of destination, as it is an “Apostolic Vicariate.” In virtue of this double title, I give you the letter of the three Georgian women.
We greet you in the name of all Georgians.
We ask God to give you health in the name of Jesus.
We are very happy that God chose you as Pope. Pray for us, for the poor, for the miserable all over the world, for children. We believe your prayer reaches God directly. Georgians are very poor, they have debts, they have no homes or work. We are without strength.
At present we live in Trabzon and work. Pray that God will bless us and create in us a new and pure heart. We do not forget the Christian life and we try to be a good example for Turks in the name of God so that through us they will see and glorify God.
We have many things to say and recount, but, “Inshala” [God willing], if you come to Trabzon, we will be able to speak face to face. Your coming will be a joyful celebration. We pray and hope that God will give you health, peace and a Christian life. We kiss your hands. We will be happy if you reply and send us a photo with your signature.
You, as an ordinary father, pray for don Andrea and Loredana [an Italian volunteer who works in the parish], that God will give them strength and that through them the Church will grow and multiply in Trabzon.
[Signed:] Maria, Marina and Maria
In the name of the other Georgian Christians, we invite you to Trabzon on the occasion of your coming visit to Turkey in November.
I join these three women to truly invite you to visit us. It is a small flock, as Jesus said, which tries to be salt, leaven and light on this earth. A visit of yours, even if brief, would be a consolation and encouragement. If God wills … nothing is impossible for God.
I greet you and thank you for everything. Your books served me as nourishment during my theology studies. Bless me. And may God bless and assist you.
Don Andrea Santoro
Fidei Donum priest of the Diocese of Rome in Turkey, Diocese of Anatolia, city of Trabzon on the Black Sea, St. Mary’s Church