A Day to Rally Support Against the Mafia

Respect for Law Is a Key to Reforms, Observers Say

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NAPLES, Italy, MAR. 22, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Calls for justice and democratic participation were among the antidotes proposed to challenge the mafia, as Italy marked a day of commemoration for its victims.

The Sixth National Day of Remembrance and Commitment in Honor of Victims of the Mafia, celebrated Wednesday, was an initiative promoted and coordinated by Catholic clergy.

The idea was launched in 1995 by Father Luigi Ciotti, with the foundation of Libera, a network of 700 organizations, to struggle against the mafia by teaching respect for law.

On Wednesday, three events took place to highlight the anti-mafia struggle. One was in the context of the 4th Congress of Sicilian Churches, being held in Acireale. Another was at Torre Annunziata, a city near Naples, where the area´s mafia, the Camorra, is dominant. The third was in Palermo, capital of Sicily and symbol of the Italian mafia.

At Acireale, the Catholic Church of Sicily remembered the numerous Catholic laymen and priests who were killed by the mafia for opposing its regime of terror and «culture of death.»

Priests and journalists met to honor the memory of the dead and agreed that activities must be promoted so that their sacrifice will not be forgotten. The dead also will serve as models to combat the mafia through education and respect for the law, the priests and journalists said.

Libera organized a demonstration in Torre Annunziata, during which the names of those killed by the mafia were read. Among the latter were many youths.

Father Ciotti explained at Torre Annunziata that education in respect for the law is key to eradicating the mafia networks. Observance of the law implies a «culture of democratic participation, pursuit of justice, promotion of security…. Repression, although necessary, is not enough to defeat crime; what is needed is an offensive of prevention, culture, and civil commitment,» the priest said.

«Criminal organizations must be opposed with a strong social program and also with economic development, as well as with new policies of social justice, to give back to citizens confidence in the state,» Father Ciotti added.

He reminded his audience that the «Sicilian mafia was born as an organization of the peoples of the south who felt abandoned by the state at that time, and decided to take justice into their own hands.» There is an «irrepressible exigency of justice in the lands where the mafia recruits its young people,» Father Ciotti explained.

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