Rome – The head of the Catholic Church told a crowd of 100,000 in the Sicilian city of Palermo on Saturday that he does not believe one can be a member of the Mafia and also a devout Christian.
“You cannot believe in God and belong to the Mafia,” Pope Francis said during a visit to the Italian Mediterranean island to which the Cosa Nostra organised crime network is native.
Life is about love and not hate, forgiveness and not revenge, the pope said, according to the Vatican.
The Argentinian religious leader’s visit was in honour of the 25th anniversary of the murder of an anti Mafia priest.
Father Pino Puglisi, killed in Palermo in 1993, dedicated himself to diverting young people away from organised crime and corruption.
He was beatified in a ceremony in 2013 in the Sicilian capital before an estimated crowd of 80,000.
It was the first time that such a title was awarded to a victim of Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia.