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‘Mafia, Convert or Face God’s Wrath,’ Pope Francis Recalls St Pope John Paul II’s Appeal in Agrigento

Francis Sends Telegram for 25th Anniversary of St Pope John Paul II’s Visit to Sicilian City

Pope Francis has echoed the historic appeal of St. John Paul II in Agrigento, Sicily, underscoring that if mafia do not convert and change their ways they will face God’s wrath.

In a telegram sent, on the Pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, Archbishop of Agrigento, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s visit to Agrigento, Francis reminded Sicilian bishops of John Paul’s “prophetic invective” against the mob.

During a May 9, 1993 trip to Agrigento, Sicily, the Polish Pope spoke off-the-cuff remarks at the end of Mass. The Pontiff demanded Mafiosi convert, change their ways or face the wrath of God’s final judgment.

Here is a working translation of what St. Pope John Paul II said: “This harmony, this peace,  every people and every human person and every family, aspires to this!”

“After so many times of suffering you finally have a right to live in peace. And those who are guilty of disturbing this peace, those who carry so many human victims on their consciences, must understand, must understand that they are not allowed to kill innocent people! God once said: “Do not kill”: no man, human agglomeration, mafia, can change and trample on this most holy right of God!”

“These people, Sicilian people, so attached to life, people who love life, who give life, cannot always live under the pressure of a contrary civilization, civilization of death. Here it takes civilization of life! In the name of this Christ, crucified and risen, of this Christ Who is Truth and Life, I say this to those responsible, I say to those responsible: convert yourselves! … The judgment of God will come!

Here is a ZENIT translation of the telegram Pope Francis sent May 9, 2018, to the Sicilian bishops to mark the historic denunciation:

* * *

The Telegram

His Most Reverend Eminence Cardinal Francesco Montenegro

Archbishop of Agrigento

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s visit to Agrigento, when, at the end of the Mass in the Valley of the Temples, he pronounced the prophetic invective against the Mafia and the appeal for the Mafiosi to convert, the Holy Father Francis addresses his fraternal greeting to the Pastors and the faithful of that particular Church and to the whole of Sicily gathered in prayer and reflection, and he encourages them to walk united in the steps of Blessed Father Pino Puglisi and of all who, like him, have attested that evil plots are combated with the daily, meek and courageous practice of the Gospel, especially in the educational endeavour amid youngsters and young people. Invoking the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, Pope Francis assures his special remembrance in the prayer for the Churches of Sicily and he sends to his Brother Bishops, to the Priests and to all the people of God his heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State 

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in four languages). She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, EWTN and Salt & Light. For 'The Other Francis': https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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