Pope Benedict XVI mourns death of priest in Turkey

Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday mourned the death of a Roman Catholic priest slain in Turkey and disclosed he had just received what he called a moving letter from the cleric written a few days before he was killed.

The pope, addressing his weekly public audience, noted that the Rev. Andrea Santoro, a 60-year-old Italian, was killed Sunday while "praying in church."

Turkish police have arrested a 16-year-old boy as the suspected killer. Witnesses say the killer screamed "Allahu Akbar," Arabic for "God is great," before firing two bullets into Santoro's back.

"I read the letter with deep emotion ... it is a mirror of his priestly soul and of his love for Christ and mankind and of his commitment to the `little ones,"' the pope said.

Benedict called the letter "a moving witness of love and fidelity to Christ and his Church," and said it would be published in the Vatican's daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

Earlier, the apostolic vicar in Anatolia, Bishop Luigi Padovese, told reporters that he believed the killing was an "isolated incident" although connected to a "recent anti-Christian climate."

Santoro's body has been returned to Italy. His funeral will be held Friday in Rome's St. John Lateran Basilica and presided over by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the pope's vicar for Rome, reports the AP.

I.L.