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 CNS Story:

FATIMA-AGCA Apr-21-2010 (320 words) With photo. xxxi

Papal assailant Agca wants meeting with Pope Benedict in Fatima

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Turk who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981, Mehmet Ali Agca, wants to meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Marian shrine of Fatima in May, news reports said.

The Vatican said the pope has no plans to meet Agca.

The Italian news agency ANSA said Agca's request was made by his lawyer through the Vatican press office.

Asked for comment April 21, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said: "Such an encounter is not on the schedule."

Agca had previously asked the Portuguese government for permission to attend annual ceremonies May 13 in Fatima, which will be presided over by Pope Benedict this year. The German pope is going to Portugal from May 11 to 14 to mark the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the shepherd children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917.

Agca shot and seriously wounded Pope John Paul in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. He was apprehended immediately, tried in an Italian court and sentenced to life in prison.

In 2000, with Pope John Paul's support, Italy pardoned Agca and returned him to his native Turkey, where he began serving a sentence for the 1979 murder of a Turkish journalist. He was released from a Turkish prison in January.

Pope John Paul credited Mary with saving his life in the assassination attempt, and on the first anniversary of the shooting, he made a trip to Fatima to give thanks to Mary. He later placed a bullet fragment from the shooting into the crown of her statue at Fatima.

In 2000, Pope John Paul revealed the "third secret" of Fatima, a prophetic vision of church suffering that the pontiff said he believed referred to the attempt on his life. That prompted Agca to describe himself as a tool of divine providence.

END


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