Europe (HRNW): Pope Francis is visiting the Italian island of Sicily to pay homage to a priest who was murdered by the mafia 25 years ago. Father Giuseppe Puglisi was shot dead while working as a parish priest in the city of Palermo. The priest was renowned for working with young people to keep them away from drugs and the mafia. Pope Francis has previously denounced the mafia, calling for the excommunication of mobsters. On Saturday morning, the Pope addressed the faithful at Palermo’s Piazza Europa and will later visit Puglisi’s parish in the working-class neighbourhood of Brancaccio. “Be afraid of the deafness of not listening to people. Listening to people is what Father Pino [Puglisi’s nickname] did, poor among the poor of his land,” said the Pope.
Father Puglisi was shot dead on the doorstep of his home on his birthday, 15 September, in 1993. His murder came at a time when mafia violence against opponents of their influence was of particularly grave concern. Puglisi was declared a “martyr” who was “killed by hatred of the faith” by Pope Francis’ predecessor Benedict XVI in 2012. He was beatified five years ago. Beatification is the penultimate step to sainthood in the Catholic Church. Last month, Pope Francis visited Ireland where he asked for forgiveness for members of the Catholic Church who “kept quiet” about clerical child sex abuse. The Catholic Church faces ongoing questions about child abuse around the world