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.