Sunday, November 29, 2020

Pope Francis Meets Parents of Priest Stabbed to Death by Tunisian Immigrant

ROME — Pope Francis met with the parents of Father Roberto Malgesini, an Italian priest who was stabbed to death last month by a Tunisian immigrant to whom he had given assistance.

At around 7:00am on September 15, the priest was repeatedly stabbed outside his home in the northern Italian city of Como by 53-year-old Mahmoudi Ridha, a Muslim man Father Malgesini had helped on a number of occasions.

After being arrested, Ridha reportedly said that the priest had “died like a dog” and that “it was the way it should be.”

Before the pope’s general audience Wednesday morning, the pontiff met with the parents of the slain priest, who he said “was killed in the very act of serving.” The priest — called by Francis a “witness of charity to the poorest” — was preparing for his daily rounds delivering breakfast to the poor and homeless of the area when he was attacked.

The pope took occasion of the visit with the parents of the murdered priest to reflect on the solitary nature of human suffering.

“The tears of those parents are ‘their’ tears and both of them know how much they suffered in seeing this son who gave his life in the service of the poor,” Francis said. “When we want to console someone, we don’t find the words. Because? Because we cannot get to his pain, because ‘his’ pain is his, ‘his’ tears are his.”

“The same is true of us: the tears, ‘my’ sorrow is mine, the tears are ‘mine’ and with these tears, with this pain I turn to the Lord,” he added.

“Everyone suffers in this world: whether you believe in God or reject him,” Francis said.

“Think about this: tears are not universal, they are ‘my’ tears. Everyone has their own,” he said. “‘My’ tears and ‘my’ pain push me to go on with prayer.”

“They are ‘my’ tears that no one has ever shed before me,” he said. “Yes, many have cried, many. But ‘my’ tears are mine, ‘my’ pain is mine, ‘my’ suffering is mine.”

Ridha Mahmoudi, who confessed to the crime but later retracted his confession, originally told investigators that he had attacked the priest out of fear of being expelled from Italy, given his criminal record that identified him as dangerous as well as two deportation orders dated 2018 and April 2020.

According to reports, Mahmoudi believed there was a plot afoot to send him back to Tunisia and that Father Malgesini was part of the conspiracy and had to be dealt with.

The assailant is being tried for premeditated murder.

Follow @tdwilliamsrome

Thomas D. Williams Ph.D.

More From: Thomas D. Williams Ph.D.