Pope decries attack on Catholic Church in Istanbul

As Pope Francis condemns attack on Catholic Church in Istanbul, the Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul and the Apostolic Administrator of Constantinople, Bishop Massimiliano Palinuro, appeals to authorities "to seek the truth" behind the attack, which seems to suggest "religious intolerance."

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis, addressing the faithful during his Sunday Angelus, decried the attack by armed gunmen on a Catholic Church in Istanbul, Türkiye, which left one person dead, during Sunday Mass.

“I express my sympathy,” the Pope said in his remarks, “to the community of St. Mary Draperis Church in Istanbul, which suffered an armed attack during Mass that left one person dead and several wounded.”

In an interview with Vatican Media’s Roberto Cetera, the Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul and the Apostolic Administrator of Constantinople, Bishop Massimiliano Palinuro, discussed the tragic series of events, appealing for authorities to seek the truth behind the attack, which he said seems to suggest religious intolerance.

Elements seem to suggest attack motivated by religious intolerance

On Sunday morning, the Congregation of the Church of the Nativity of Mary in a suburb of Istanbul, Bishop Palinuro explained, was celebrating the Eucharist. Shortly after the offertory, at the moment of the Sanctus, he recalled that two armed people entered, firing several gunshots in the air.

“And then the reaction of one of the faithful, who also had some mental health problems, had the courage to protest against this, probably in response to this act,” he explained, adding, “They responded by killing this person.”

The concrete motivations, the Apostolic Vicar told Vatican Media, “are not yet known” and “have yet to be verified.”

“But the elements that seem to emerge so far suggest a religiously motivated attack, a motivation of religious intolerance.”

“The concrete motivations are not yet known and have yet to be verified, but the elements that seem to emerge so far suggest a religiously motivated attack, a motivation of religious intolerance.”

Community in shock

“Our community is literally shocked,” he said, even if it is living the tragedy as a “time for prayer,” “for solidarity with the Catholic community,” and “for prayer for the person who has died.”

“As a Christian community,” the Apostolic Vicar appealed, “we ask the authorities to shed light, to seek the truth.”

“As a Christian community, we ask the authorities to shed light, to seek the truth.”

Bishop Palinuro concluded by expressing sorrow for the person killed and appealing for greater security of the Catholic faithful.

“We ask for greater security and for the safety of the faithful, of the Christian community, which perseveres in the faith and courageously face very long journeys at times to attend the Eucharistic celebration.”

Catholic church shooting in Istanbul
Catholic church shooting in Istanbul