Gunman wishes pope 'speedy recovery'

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Turkish man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981 released a cryptic statement Thursday wishing the hospitalized pontiff a speedy recovery and urging him to tell the world that its end was near.

Mehmet Ali Agca was extradited to Turkey in 2000 after serving almost 20 years in Italy for the May 13, 1981, shooting of the pope in St. Peter’s Square. Agca fired two shots, one of which hit the pope in the abdomen as he rode through the square in an open car.

Agca’s motives for the attack remain unclear. The pope later forgave Agca for the attack during a meeting.

Agca currently is serving a separate prison sentence for murdering a Turkish journalist and committing two robberies in Turkey in 1979.

In a brief statement — handwritten in Italian and faxed to The Associated Press on Thursday by his attorney, Mustafa Demirbag — Agca wished the pope well.

“You and I suffer for the realization of a universal divine plan. I wish you a speedy recovery,” he said.

“Now you have to confirm the Divine Truth that we are at the end of the world. This is the last generation of humanity on planet Earth. Only like this will God give you health and miraculous strength for the coming years.”

Agca’s attorneys say he could be released from jail as early as this year if he benefits from recent changes to Turkish law.