Pope tells Mafia to change ways

The Northern Star - - WORLD -

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.”

Pic­ture: AFP PHOTO / VAT­I­CAN ME­DIA

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.

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