Mehmet Ali Agca was deported from Italy after visiting Pope John Paul II’s tomb, 30 years after being forgiven by the pope for his assassination attempt.
On May 13, 1981, Mehmet Ali Agca shot Pope John Paul II, critically injuring the religious leader in a failed assassination attempt. A few years later, the pope visited his would-be assassin in prison and forgave him. Only 23 years old at the time, Agca came to the Vatican and shot the pope while he was waving to worshipers from his open car.
30 yrs ago StJohnPaul forgave his would-be assassin in Rome prison; today Mehmet Ali Agca brought flowers to his tomb pic.twitter.com/RYbAbxyUSU
— Catholic News Svc (@CatholicNewsSvc) December 27, 2014
Immediately arrested after the assassination attempt, Agca has served his time repenting for his actions. In 2000 he was pardoned by Italy and sent to his native country, Turkey, where he was jailed for other crimes until 2010.
30 years after being forgiven by Pope John Paul II, Agca visited the pope’s final resting place in Vatican City to say a prayer of thankfulness and lay white roses on the tomb. Upon his arrival in Vatican City last weekend, Agca called the Italian newspaper La Repubblica to let the media know his intentions of visiting the pope who forgave him. He also asked Vatican officials if he could meet with Pope Francis, but he was denied.
He visited the tomb, passing through the metal detectors installed because of his crime, and he was watched closely by reporters and security officials. After paying his respects to Pope John Paul II, he was arrested for illegally entering Italy. He was deported back to Turkey. According to judicial sources, Agca had entered without a visa.
While the world knows the man who pulled the trigger, little is known as to why Agca attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II. At the time of his arrest, he was found with a note that said “I have killed the Pope so that the world may know of the thousands of victims of imperialism.” However, many theories blame different groups, from Soviet Russia to radical Muslims, for being behind the attack.