Pope Francis appealed to Sicily’s Mafia on Saturday to desert a lifetime of crime and violence, saying the island wanted “women and men of affection, not women and men ‘of honour,’” utilizing the time period mobsters apply to themselves.
Francis, within the Sicilian capital, mentioned organized crime members — a lot of whom go to church and worship brazenly — “can not consider in God and be Mafiosi” on the identical time. In his attraction, he referred to them as “pricey brothers and sisters.”
He visited Palermo to commemorate Father Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi, a priest shot lifeless by Mafia hit males in 1993 as a result of he challenged the group’s management over one of many metropolis’s hardest neighborhoods.
Puglisi was killed on his 56th birthday throughout a bloody Mafia offensive towards the state and anybody else who threatened the group’s existence. Magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino had been killed by bombs in Palermo in 1992.
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“An individual who’s a Mafioso doesn’t dwell as a Christian as a result of along with his life he blasphemes towards the identify of God,” Francis mentioned within the sermon of a Mass from some 80,000 folks within the port space of the Sicilian capital.
The Catholic Church in southern Italy has had a checkered historical past of relations with the mob. Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini, who was archbishop of Palermo from 1945-1967, denied the Mafia’s existence, contemplating communism the Church’s largest menace.
“I say to Mafiosi: Change, brothers and sisters! Cease occupied with yourselves and your cash … Convert yourselves to the actual God, Jesus Christ, pricey brothers and sisters,” he mentioned in his dockside sermon.
“I say to you, Mafiosi, if you happen to don’t do that, your very life can be misplaced and that can be your biggest defeat,” he mentioned.
“As we speak, we’d like women and men of affection, not women and men of honour; women and men of service, not of oppression.”
Many members of organized crime teams in Italy, equivalent to Sicily’s Cosa Nostra and Calabria’s Ndrangheta, see themselves as a part of a spiritual, cult-like group, invoking the assistance of saints for his or her actions.
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Significantly in smaller cities and cities within the south, they participate in Catholic sacraments and in some circumstances have additionally discovered complicity by some churchmen.
Puglisi refused to play alongside. With little assist by the Church hierarchy in Sicily, he preached towards the Mafia from the pulpit of his church within the tough Brancaccio neighborhood, then managed by the Graviano household.
He helped younger folks in an space with excessive unemployment keep away from the snare of the Mafia, requested parishioners to assist police investigations, refused donations from mobsters and banned them from becoming a member of conventional non secular avenue processions.
Puglisi’s homicide was ordered by native bosses Filippo and Giuseppe Graviano. The bothers and 4 males who deliberate or carried out the killing had been convicted in 1998. All however one obtained life sentences.
One of many killers, who later turned state’s proof, mentioned that as Puglisi was dying he mentioned: “I’ve been anticipating you.”
In 2012, former Pope Benedict decreed that Puglisi died as a martyr in “hatred of the religion,” and ordered that he be beatified, the final step earlier than sainthood within the Church.