Pope’s Assassin Wants Public Baptism After January Release

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Mehmet Ali Agca, the gunman who tried to kill Pope John Paul II nearly 30 years ago, will be released next month from a Turkish prison. After moving to Italy, he plans to ask the Vatican to baptise him for all the world to see.

“Once freed, I would like to be baptised,” Agca said last May. “I would like to do it in front of media from all over the world, in the Vatican, exactly in front of St Peter’s Square, the place where I struck Pope Wojtyla.”

Agca, who has been imprisoned in Italy and Turkey for the last 28 years, announced two years ago that he had converted to Christianity.

According to the TimesOnline, Agca said his first wish upon his release next month is to pray at the tomb of the late Pope John Paul II who forgave him for the May 13, 1981 attempt on his life. Agca served nearly 20 years for the crime in an Italian prison before being pardoned by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2000. He was then deported to Turkey where he was re-arrested for the murder of the editor of Turkish newspaper two years before he shot the Pope.

Scheduled to be released on Jan. 18, 2010 from Yenikent prison in Ankara, Agca  reportedly has signed a book deal and has landed an exclusive interview with an American television channel for which he will be paid $2 million.

Maurizio Gasparri, former Italian minister of communications, said: “It is shameful to enrich a criminal in this way. Terrorists and murderers should remain silent and not become rich stars.”

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