Pontiff visited Palermo to commemorate Pino Puglisi, a priest murdered in 1993
Pope Francis has appealed to Sicilys mafia to abandon lives of crime and violence, saying the island needed men and women of love, not men and women of honour, using the term mobsters apply to themselves.
Speaking on Saturday in the Sicilian capital, Francis said members of organised criminal networks many of whom go to church and worship openly cannot believe in God and be mafiosi at the same time. In his appeal, he referred to them as dear brothers and sisters.
The pope visited Palermo to commemorate Father Giuseppe Pino Puglisi, a priest shot dead by mafia hitmen in 1993 after he challenged the organisations control over one of the citys toughest neighbourhoods.
Puglisi was killed on his 56th birthday during a bloody mafia offensive against the state and anyone else who threatened the groups existence. Magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino had been killed in twin bomb attacks in Palermo in 1992.
A person who is a mafioso does not live as a Christian because with his life he blasphemes against the name of God, Francis said in the sermon of a mass for some 80,000 people in the port area of the Sicilian capital.