Pope dismays anti-Mafia activists on Sicily visit

PALERMO, Sicily, (Reuters) – Pope Benedict said yesterday the Mafia represented “a path of death” that Sicily’s  young should shun but he dismayed activists who said he was too  timid and should have given the crime group a moral hammering.

Benedict, making his first visit to Sicily as pope, said an  open-air mass for more than 200,000 people near the Sicilian  capital’s port and then later addressed a rally of tens of  thousands of young people.

“Do not succumb to the temptations of the Mafia, which is a  path of death, incompatible with the gospel, as your bishops  have told you many times,” he told the young people gathered at  an evening rally in a Palermo square.

The pope mentioned the Mafia only in that sentence of his  two-page speech to the young people, which was centred on family  values, and in a speech to bishops in which he mentioned that a  priest, Pino Puglisi, had been killed by the mob in 1993.

“While it is good that he used the word, I don’t understand  this timid way of approaching the issue,” Rita Borsellino, whose  brother Paolo, a leading anti-Mafia magistrate, was killed by a  Mafia car bomb in Palermo in 1992, told Reuters.

“I was expecting him to develop the theme much more,  especially in his address to the young people,” she said.

Paolo Borsellino was one of two magistrates killed in twin  attacks in 1992. The other was Giovanni Falcone, who was blown  up with his wife and his three-man police escort when the Mafia  planted a massive bomb under the highway near Palermo airport.

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