Pope tells Sicily’s mafia ‘You cannot believe in God and be mafiosi’

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.

Pope Francis leaves the Cathedral of Palermo. He made an an unscheduled stop at the roadside spot where magistrate Giovanni Falcone Falcone, his wife and three police agents were blown up. Photograph: Andrew Medichini/AP

The crowd interrupted with applause each time he denounced the mafia.

The Catholic church in southern Italy has had a chequered history of relations with the mob. Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini, who was archbishop of Palermo from 1945-1967, denied the mafias existence, considering communism the churchs biggest threat.

I say to mafiosi: Change, brothers and sisters! Stop thinking about yourselves and your money … Convert yourselves to the real God, Jesus Christ, dear brothers and sisters, Francis said in his dockside sermon.

I say to you, mafiosi, if you dont do this, your very life will be lost and that will be your greatest defeat, he said.

Today, we need men and women of love, not men and women of honour; men and women of service, not of oppression.

Later, on his way to the airport, Francis made an unscheduled stop to pray and lay flowers at the spot on the highway where Falcone, his wife and three police agents were blown up as their motorcade passed on 23 May, 1992.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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