Palermo Cardinal: Faith and Mafia Are Incompatible

Uses Occasion of Feast Day to Appeal to Citizens to Confront Scourge of Organised Crime

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Now more than ever we cannot have “watered-down” Christians, a Sicilian cardinal has declared in a speech condemning the mafia.

Cardinal Paolo Romeo, the archbishop of Palermo, launched an appeal calling not only for the commitment of institutions, but also for citizens to do their part to heal his city of Palermo from its “ugliness,” reported Avvenire.

The cardinal chose the feast of Santa Rosalia Tuesday to make this appeal to the consciences of the people of Palermo, the capital of Sicily notorious for organized crime. During a procession of a silver urn with the relics of the patron saint, who liberated the city from the plague in the seventeenth century, he said, “Faith is not a tranquilizer for consciousness.”

“We are aware that our faith is absolutely incompatible with the mafia and criminal systems that disfigure,” he said, and compared it to how the bubonic plague destroyed society. This mafia plague, he said, harms society and steals hope from new generations.

Cardinal Romeo told the many gathered at the event to be responsible, not indifferent to societal harms, and to actively confront them, just as this patron saint of Palermo liberated her city from the plague.

There is nothing worse, the cardinal said, than to just cast off these injustices to God, delegating them to Him to solve. 

Speaking on what constitutes this “ugliness” which must be tackled, he said “the trash, traffic, from the serious social problems that plague the population” all present a “shock to the conscience.” Moreover, he decried the “emergency” of the homeless, which is “increasingly complex and alarming.”  

Cardinal Romeo voiced the need for a change of mentality and lifestyle: “Celebrating our patron saint, we ask ourselves: ‘Do we commit ourselves to say ‘no’ to oppression, injustice, lawlessness, violence in our society?’ 

“Let’s face it,” he said bluntly, just because mafia members call themselves Christians because they, from time to time, make or organize some outward gesture of devotion does not mean your consciences cannot question what’s happening. Christianity must be active, not “watered down.” (D.C.L.)

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