Jules Gomes, Church Militant, September 16, 2020
“The priest died like a dog, that was right,” Tunisian citizen Mahmoudi Ridha said Tuesday morning after he repeatedly stabbed 51-year-old Fr. Roberto Malgesini in Piazza San Rocco in the center of Como in northern Italy.
No “certified psychological problems” were detected from the tests carried out Tuesday and the assailant had no history of mental illness, police clarified, after the diocese of Como, the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), Caritas, and Italy’s mainstream media unanimously diagnosed the killer as “mentally ill.”
Como’s Squadra Volante (Flying Squad) police and defense lawyer, Davide Giudici, also confirmed that the 53-year-old illegal, a recipient of Fr. Malgesini’s generosity, had displayed no regret for his action.
Pope Francis paid tribute to the priest in his Wednesday audience, giving “praise to God for the witness, that is, for the martyrdom of this witness of charity toward the poorest.”
Roberto Bernasconi, president of the Como section of pro-migrant Catholic charity Caritas, blamed the “tragedy” on the anti-migrant “climate of hatred and intolerance that is fomented in the city.”
Hours after the murder, outspoken pro-life Catholic doctor Silvana De Mari addressed shocked Italians, slamming Pope Francis’ “exhortation to build bridges, not walls” as “absolute idiocy” and not endorsed by any sacred text.
“If a European kills a non-European he’s a murderous pig, a Nazi and above all, always responsible for his actions. If the opposite happens, he’s just a bit touched in the head,” Dr. De Mari observed.
“There are many reasons why individual Muslims may attack Christians, but we should be aware that for a variety of reasons the Catholic Church and Catholic priests are a particular target,” Dr. Martin Parsons, independent consultant on the global persecution of Christians, told Church Militant.
“At its peak, Islamic State even produced a magazine called Rumiyah (Rome) to talk about how it planned to conquer the West,” Parsons noted.
Ridha, who had purchased a large kitchen knife three months ago and carried it with him, attacked the priest of the pastoral community of Beato Scalabrini shortly after 7 a.m. and stabbed him multiple times, killing him with a stab wound to the neck.
Father Malgesini was on his usual rounds distributing breakfast to the homeless and migrant population in the city center when Ridha confronted him angrily, sparking off a loud altercation.
The murderer walked about 400 meters to the local police station — dripping blood all the way — and surrendered.
The pro-migrant priest made headlines last year after he was fined by Como municipality for serving breakfast to the homeless who were squatting in the portico of the redundant church of St. Francis.
Ridha came from Tunisia to Italy in 1993 and married an Italian woman whom he later divorced. His residence permit, obtained for family reasons, was canceled as a result of the divorce.
Over the last five years, Ridha had six complaints against him for violating immigration law. He was awarded short prison sentences for resisting a public official and other minor felonies.
In 2017, he managed to evade deportation by claiming he had an eye problem. However, his expulsion order was confirmed after a medical report ruled that he could receive treatment in Tunisia.
The outbreak of the Wuhan virus pandemic resulted in further delay of his deportation. The illegal alien had presented yet another appeal that was to be heard on the day of the murder.