Pope tells it straight to Sicilian mafia

Pope Francis has told members of the Sicilian mafia, who are regular worshippers, that they cannot believe in God and be Mafiosi.

Francis was in Sicily on the weekend to honour a priest murdered by the mob 25 years ago while trying to save youngsters in poor neighbourhoods from falling into their hands.

“You can’t believe in God and belong to the mafia,” Francis said.

“Those who belong to the mafia don’t lead a Christian existence because their lives are blasphemous,” he said to the 100,000 worshippers at an open-air mass near Palermo’s port.

“Change! Stop thinking about yourselves and your money, convert!”

His homily was held in honour of Father Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi, who served as parish priest in the Palermo neighbourhood of Brancaccio for two years.

Puglisi was killed for trying to engage local youngsters and keep them away from drugs and the mafia suppliers.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI officially recognised Puglisi as a martyr in 2012, for being “killed by hatred of the faith”.

The following year Puglisi was beatified.

“Don Pino knew what he was risking but above all he knew that the real danger in life was to not take any risks and to just scrape along,” Pope Francis told the crowd on Saturday.

After his mass, Francis laid a rose wreath outside Puglisi’s home.

centre,” he told AFP.

Since becoming pope in 2013, Francis has openly confronted the mafia and called on the faithful to stop all collaboration with them.

Mafiosi are often practising members and benefactors of Catholic parishes.

In 2015,  Francis said those who in their lives follow this path of evil, as the Mafiosi do, are not in communion with God,” and excommunicated them.

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