Fr. Andrea Santoro, who was murdered in February in Trabzon, on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, was a victim of jihadism. An Italian missionary priest who had served in Turkey for ten years, Father Santoro was shot twice at point-blank range in his church by a youth who shouted “Allahu akbar!” (“Allah is great!”) before fleeing the scene.
Pope Benedict XVI praised Father Santoro for his work and expressed hope that “his blood shed may be a seed of hope for the building of authentic fraternity among people.” While this statement wrapped a futile hope in the language of diplomatic prudence, José Cardinal Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, refused to accept a link between the killing and Islamic hostility, declaring he wanted to be “prudent” about jumping to conclusions.
Worse still, he declared it would be wrong to speak of a “religious conflict” because “every faith is against war and against the misuse of the image of God.”
By contrast, Italy’s reforms minister, Roberto Calderoli, a member of the Northern League, rejected such platitudes. He called on the Pope to “stand up to defend Christianity with the firmness of his predecessors who had started the Crusades in the Middle Ages” and to defend Christian rights against discrimination in the Islamic world. Such sanguine...