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Last Published Letter of a Murdered Catholic Priest

Father Santoro Writes of Vocation to Bridge the West and Mideast

ROME, FEB. 7, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the last letter published by Father Andrea Santoro, in the magazine Window to the Middle East, which he founded in Italy.

The 60-year-old priest was shot and killed Sunday while praying in his parish in Trabzon, Turkey.

* * *


I am writing from Rome, where I have spent three weeks before returning to Turkey. They have been very intense days, dedicated to testimonies, meetings, catechesis, conferences, and times of prayer. Everything has been oriented to promote information and knowledge between the Middle East, seen through my personal experience, and our West, in line with the objective of Window to the Middle East.

I have found everywhere interest and participation, a sincere desire to understand and to establish bonds of communion. I have seen the importance and the possibility of undertaking an exchange of spiritual gifts between these two worlds. The Middle East, great "holy land," where God decided to communicate himself in a special way with man, has its riches and the capacity, thanks to the light that God has always infused, to illuminate our Western world.

But the Middle East has its darkness, its problems, often tragic, and its "voids." It needs, therefore, in turn that that Gospel that came from there be sowed again and that the presence of Christ be proposed again there. It is a reciprocal "re-evangelization" and an enrichment that the two worlds can exchange.

Meanwhile, in Trabzon, the minute Christian community has met every Sunday morning to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word and the Church has been opened twice a week to Muslims, under the responsibility of a trustworthy person. I will let you know how it goes.

I greet you, commending these reflections to you and exhorting you to always put faith in contact with the present moment. It must not be an abstract and generic faith, but a faith like that of the first "beginnings," which has been transmitted to us from generation to generation. As the Gospel says, leaven has a mysterious capacity to ferment the dough, if it comes into contact with it -- the dough of all times, all places, all generations.

Moreover, Jesus said: "I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness." If his light illuminates us, not only will it illuminate every situation, even the most tragic, but in addition we too, as He always said, will be light. The tenuous light of a candle illuminates a house, an extinguished lamp leaves everything in darkness. May he shine in us with his Word, with his Spirit, with the sap of his saints. May our life be the wax that is consumed willingly.

Father Andrea


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Catholic, Priest, Murder, Santoro, Turkey

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