Pope tells Mafia to change ways
POPE Francis has appealed to members of the Mafia to renounce their quests for power and money.
Francis was visiting Sicily to honour a priest killed by mob henchmen in 1993 for trying to protect youths from the clutches of organised crime.
The day-long trip by Francis to the Mediterranean island where the Italian Mafia is rooted marked the 25th anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi.
Puglisi was declared a martyr by the Vatican and was beatified in 2013, the last formal step before possible sainthood.
Francis paid tribute to the priest, who worked to keep unemployed youths in a poor neighbourhood of Palermo from turning to local Mafia bosses for jobs like pushing drugs.
Tens of thousands of people cheered Francis at an open-air mass held in the late morning at an esplanade along the port city’s waterfront.
Francis drew applause as he told the crowd: “If the Mafia threat is ‘you will pay me,’ the Christian prayer is ‘Lord, help me to love.’ Thus I say to the Mafiosi: change, brothers and sisters. Quit thinking about yourselves and your money.”
Pope Francis presents a wreath at the weekend as he pays homage to the victims of the May 23, 1992 mafia bombings, at the Capaci memorial in Sicily.