Pope Recalls Victims of Mafia and Organized Crime

Encourages Laity to Find Strength in God

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PALERMO, Italy, OCT. 4, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is recalling the victims of the mafia and organized crime, and is urging lay people to bear witness to Gospel values with the strength that comes from God.

The Pope stated this Sunday during a pastoral trip to the island of Sicily. In his homily during an outdoor Mass in Palermo, he stated, «I know that in Palermo, as everywhere in Sicily, there is no lack of difficulties, problems and worries.»

«I think in particular of those who concretely live their lives in precariousness because of the lack of work, the uncertainty of the future, physical and moral suffering and, as the archbishop noted, because of organized crime,» the Pontiff said.

He continued: «Today I am with you to bear witness to my nearness to you and my prayers for you. 

«I am here to give you strong encouragement to not be afraid to bear clear witness to the human and Christian values that are so deeply rooted in the faith and the history of this place and its people.»

«Your beautiful island was among the first regions of Italy to accept the faith of the Apostles,» the Holy Father acknowledged, «to receive the proclamation of the Word of God, to adhere to the faith in a generous way so that even in the midst of hardships and persecutions the flower of sanctity blossomed in it.»

«Sicily was and is a land of saints, who belonged to every condition of life, who lived the Gospel with simplicity and integrity,» he added.

Addressing the laypeople in particular, Benedict XVI stated, «Do not be afraid to live and bear witness to the faith in the various spheres of society, in the multiple situations of human existence, above all in the difficult ones!»

«Faith gives you the strength of God to be always confident and courageous, to go forward with new decision, to embark on the initiatives that are necessary to give a face to your land that is ever more beautiful,» he affirmed.

«And when you encounter the world’s opposition,» the Pope said, «listen to the words of the Apostle: ‘Do not be ashamed therefore to bear witness to our Lord.'» 

Ashamed of evil

He continued: «We must be ashamed of evil, of that which offends God, of that which offends man; we must be ashamed of the evil that afflicts the civil and religious community with actions that do not like to come into the light!»

«The temptation of discouragement, of resignation, comes to those who are weak in faith, to those who confuse evil with good, to those who think that in the face of evil, often great evil, there is nothing to be done,» the Pontiff said.

«But those who stand firmly on faith,» he added, «those who are full of trust in God and live in the Church, are able to unleash the explosive power of the Gospel.»

«This is how the saints lived,» the Holy Father noted, «who flourished over the course of the centuries in Palermo and in every part of Sicily, and how the laypeople and priests of today live whom you know well.»

He mentioned in particular the example of Father Pino Puglisi (1937-1993), an Italian priest in the process of beatification who was killed at age 56 by the mafia.

Benedict XVI said, «May they be the ones who always keep you united and who encourage you in the desire to proclaim, with words and with deeds, the presence and the love of Christ.»

At the end of his day-long trip to Palermo, on his way to the airport for departure, the Pope decided to stop near Capaci at the site of an attack by the mafia on Giovanni Falcone (1939-1992). The Italian judge spent his career prosecuting the Sicilian mafia until he was killed with his wife and three bodyguards by a bomb placed under the road on the way to the airport.

At this site, the Pontiff got out of his car, laid a bouquet of flowers at the memorial, and prayed in silence for the victims of the mafia and other organized crime. Then, he returned to his car to go to the airport for his flight back to Rome.

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://zenit.org/article-30536?l=english

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