Advocates for religious liberty and active dialogue between Christian and Muslim communities lost an influential leader with the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese in Turkey last month. Bishop Padovese, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Turkey, pushed for greater religious freedom as the avenue for peace between religious communities in Turkey and around the world.
There is a great deal of analysis and opinion over Turkey’s drift away from its secular roots. In that light, while acknowledging that this murder may be the act of a single man, it cannot go without noting widely circulated reports that the killer shouted “Allah Akbar!” immediately after the murder. While the Turkish state is not involved in this incident, it also bears emphasizing that attacks on Turkey’s small Christian community are becoming all too common.
The Heritage Foundation’s friends at the Venice-based Oasis International Foundation have posted an interview with Bishop Padovese conducted last October where the late Bishop talks about the importance the Christian presence in Turkey and the difficulties faced by the Catholic Church in particular. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom corroborates his points. It has put Turkey on its watch list, citing its “convoluted regulations and undemocratic laws to confiscate hundreds of religious minority properties” as one of the reasons.
The work and arguments made by Bishop Padovese illustrate the broad interest in religious freedom. Lack of it leads to misinformation about different religions and people, prejudices, and violence. Following the example of Bishop Padovese to fully support the rights of religious minorities will help bring about more religious freedom, more stability in societies, and improved prospects for peace and security among nations.