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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2006, 19:50 GMT
Pope honours priest's 'sacrifice'
Andrea Santoro
Andrea Santoro had written a letter to the Pope before he died
Pope Benedict XVI has paid tribute to an Italian priest shot dead in Turkey.

The Pope said he hoped the "sacrifice" of Andrea Santoro would contribute towards dialogue between religions.

There has been speculation that the shooting may have been linked to the controversy over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

A 16-year-old boy is under arrest in connection with the killing, which took place at the priest's church in the Black Sea port of Trabzon.

Speaking at his weekly audience, the Pope said a letter from the 61-year-old priest, dated 31 January, had arrived after his death.

Make public

In it, he spoke of his work with the minority Christian community in Turkey.

"May the sacrifice of his life contribute to the cause of dialogue among religions and peace among peoples," the Pope said.

He said the letter would be published in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

Turkish politicians have condemned the killing of Father Santoro and say they hope there is no link to the widespread outrage over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The priest's work with prostitutes in the area has also been suggested as a possible motive for the attack.

The Pope is due to visit Turkey in November this year at the invitation of the Turkish government and the Orthodox Patriarch.

Watch the Pope's tribute to Father Andrea Santoro

Shooting kills priest in Turkey
05 Feb 06 |  Europe

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