Mafioso Surrenders After Hearing Papal Speech

ROME, NOV. 19, 2002 ( John Paul II’s address to the Italian Parliament last week had unexpected effects — an arrest, and possibly even a change of heart.

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Sicilian Mafia boss Benedetto Marciante, 50, who had been convicted of murder and racketeering, gave himself up at the Rebibbia prison here last Thursday after hearing the Pope’s address, his lawyers said.

In May, Marciante was sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison for the 1982 murder of another Mafioso. In September, he was sentenced to an additional seven years in prison for his Mafia ties. His property was confiscated in 2000 by a Palermo court decision, but Marciante himself had eluded capture.

Shortly after hearing a broadcast of the Pope’s speech to Parliament, Marciante called his lawyers and told them he would surrender to the police.

Later the Mafia boss explained in public statements that what impressed him most were the Holy Father’s words on family values. «I realized that I was on the wrong path,» he said.

In his address, John Paul II spoke of «action in favor of families and openness to life, and more in general, in favor of a way of life marked by self-giving.»

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