ROME – Pope Francis was in Sicily on Saturday to mark the 25th anniversary of the killing of a priest at the hands of a local criminal organization.
Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi was shot and killed on the orders of the local mafia “Cosa Nostra,” (“Our Thing”) on his 56th birthday in 1993. The perpetrators were sentences to life in prison.
“The Republic recognizes in Puglisi the civil martyr, who died for those values of solidarity, justice, equality, respect for the inviolable rights of the person,” Italian President Sergio Mattarella said in a statement of the anniversary.
The pope arrived to the town of Enna on the southern Italian island of Sicily early on the morning and would then travel to its capital, Palermo, where he would celebrate a mass before visiting the church where the murdered priest officiated.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI recognized the slain priest as a martyr and the following year he was beatified in Palermo.
Since becoming pope, Francis has spoken out against the mafia.