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Pope Francis tells Sicily’s Mafia: “Stop eager about yourselves and your cash”

PALERMO, Sicily — Pope Francis appealed to Mafiosi to resign their quests for energy and cash as he visited Sicily on Saturday to honor a priest slain by mob henchmen for making an attempt to guard youths from the evil clutches of organized crime. “Thus I say to the Mafiosi: change, brothers and sisters. Stop eager about yourselves and your cash,” Francis stated in his homily. 

The daylong journey by Francis to the Mediterranean island the place the Cosa Nostra is rooted marked the 25th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi’s assassination. Puglisi was declared a martyr by the Vatican and beatified in 2013, the final formal step earlier than potential sainthood. 

Francis paid tribute to the priest, who labored to maintain unemployed youths in a poor neighborhood of Palermo from turning to native Mafia bosses for jobs like pushing medicine. The papal pilgrimage got here in counterpoint to the most recent revelations about monks and bishops who sexually abused kids or connived to guard the abusers in varied nations, disclosures battering the very best ranges of the church and testing the religion of rank-and-file Catholics.

Tens of 1000’s of individuals cheered Francis at an open air Mass held within the late morning at an esplanade alongside the port metropolis’s waterfront. “Let’s renew the church,” learn a big banner carried by younger folks within the crowd as Francis was pushed by in his white popemobile. 

Strain is constructing on Francis to say what he knew in regards to the sexual misconduct of U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick, who just lately was stripped of his cardinal’s rank by the pope. 

In a metropolis the place native bosses exert their sway, typically simply by strolling by way of the neighborhood, and lots of enterprise homeowners systematically pay Cosa Nostra “safety” cash to remain open, Francis drew applause as he advised the group: “If the Mafioso litany is, ‘you do not know who I’m,’ the Christian one is ‘I want you.’ If the Mafia risk is ‘you’ll pay me,’ the Christian prayer is ‘Lord, assist me to like.'”

“You understand, a funeral shroud would not have pockets. You possibly can’t take it with you,” Francis stated of organized crime’s ill-gained wealth from drug and arms trafficking, extortion and betting and prostitution rackets.

“You give life to others, not take it away. You possibly can’t imagine in God and hate your brother, take away life with hatred,” Francis stated in his homily.

On his 56th birthday, Puglisi was fatally shot within the neck on the doorstep of his dwelling by a gunman that courts later dominated was finishing up orders by Mafia bosses irritated by the priest’s efforts to encourage younger folks to show their backs on the mob.

The pope later visited the residence constructing the place Puglisi lived and laid a bouquet of roses on the sidewalk the place a memorial marks the situation of the priest’s slaying. Francis additionally prayed silently in entrance of Puglisi’s tomb in Palermo’s cathedral.

Puglisi was gunned down a number of months after Pope John Paul II, throughout a pilgrimage to Sicily, angrily demanded that mobsters convert their hearts or face the wrath of God on the finish of their lives. At the moment, the island was nonetheless shocked by the 1992 bombing assassinations, by Cosa Nostra, of Italy’s high anti-Mafia magistrates.

The gunman later turned state’s proof, testifying that Puglisi turned to him with a smile and stated he was anticipating to be killed.

Francis’ denunciation of the Mafia prompted reward from Italy’s inside minister, Matteo Salvini, who in a tweet known as the pope’s phrases “holy” and vowed to make use of extra police and funds within the state’s conflict towards Cosa Nostra.

Coming from the populist minister, the praise was uncommon. Salvini’s anti-migrant insurance policies conflict with the pope’s frequent appeals for extra, not much less, solidarity with folks in want.

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