Turkish authorities have said that the man who butchered Roman Catholic Bishop Luigi Padovese the other day is suffering from “mental disorders.” There’s a curiously consistent pattern of violent “mental illness” in Turkey, however, that just happens to result in the injury or death of Christians in that almost entirely Muslim country.
But faithful and the Turkish world are still finding it hard to accept the thesis of mental illness, which only became evident a few months ago. Several attacks in recent years were committed by young people deemed “unstable” at the time but who later proved to have connections with ultra-nationalist and anti-Christian groups.
To many observers it seems that governments, politicians, Turkish civil authorities are avoiding all serious analysis of these events. The risk is that these violent episodes will be merely brushed off with the excuse that they are the isolated acts of madmen, the casual gesture of an young Islamic fanatic.
Among the “isolated acts” of unbalanced people are: the wounding of Fr Adriano Franchini, Italian Capuchin, Smyrna on December 16, 2007; Fr. Roberto Ferrari, threatened with a kebab knife in the church in Mersin on 11 March 2006, Fr. Pierre Brunissen stabbed in the side, 2 July 2006 outside his church in Samsun. These three attacks were carried out without fatal consequences.
This was not the case for Don Andrea Santoro, shot and killed Feb. 5, 2006 while praying in church in Trabzon; the same fate for the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink assassinated January 19, 2007 just outside his home in a crowded street in Istanbul. And the even more tragic death April 18, 2007 of three Protestant Christians, including one German, tortured, stabbed and killed while working in the Zirve publishing house in Malatya, which publishes Bibles and Christian books.
It’s crazy alright.