ROME, APR. 12, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Ten Italian dioceses consecrated oil in today´s Chrism Mass, which was produced in lands expropriated from the Mafia.
Following Turin Cardinal Severino Poletto´s support of the idea, other dioceses joined this initiative of Father Luigi Ciotti, president of the Libera association, which includes 700 organizations committed to the struggle against the Mafia.
The olives used for this oil matured in Sicilian lands which, until recently, were ruled by Mafia chief Bernardo Provenzano, and his lieutenant, Matteo Messina Denaro.
The lands, which were expropriated under a regional Sicilian law, have been given to associations working for the rehabilitation of youth in dangerous social situations, including years of drug addiction and enslavement to the Mafia.
The Libera association created a small agricultural cooperative and has placed 10,000 bottles of oil on sale, with a label reflecting a sign of redemption: “From Sicilian Lands Recovered to Comply with State Law.”
However, the ecclesial meaning of the initiative is far greater. “I think this oil, transformed into a sacrament, is the most evident sign that God can also make his grace present where man is weak and far from his love,” Father Ciotti explained.
In addition to Turin, the dioceses that are implementing this idea are Palermo, Catania, Trapani, Mazara del Vallo, Acireale and, more recently, Potenza, Pisa, Massa Marittima and Vigevano.
Father Salvatore Lo Bue is founder of Youth House, a small agricultural estate that sells the oil. He believes the endeavor is a strong message, even for the Mafia.
“The Church´s arms continue to be open to all those who wish sincerely to repent,” he said, “so that material goods can become instruments for social development and spiritual growth,” as in the case of oil, which is being used for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination, and the anointing of the sick.
To date, the Mafia property given to several associations for social integration amounts to over $107 million, primarily in Sicily, but also in Veneto and Piedmont in northern Italy.
One of the victims in Palermo of the Mafia families was Father Giuseppe Puglisi, who worked to rescue youths in the Brancaccio neighborhood of the Sicilian capital. On May 6, the completion of the diocesan phase of Father Puglisi´s process of beatification will be announced publicly.