Blessed Father Pino Puglisi wasn’t surprised to see the hitman who came to visit the eve of his birthday on September 15, 1993. He is reported to have smiled at his visitor and said, “I’ve been expecting you.”
Fr. Puglisi had been a fervent proponent of the Christian faith, champion of the poor, and ardent critic of the mafia in Palermo and Sicily. Thus his expectation that he would be a victim of mob violence.
A quarter-century to the day after Fr. Puglisi’s murder, Pope Francis spent the day in Palermo, echoing the messages his murdered fellow cleric had proclaimed before his death. Speaking to the faithful in Piazza Armerina Pope Francis acknowledged the scourges the faithful are afflicted with and urged them to build an ecclesial community that is lively and prophetic.
The Holy Father names the many challenges the people face:
- Social and cultural underdevelopment
- Exploitation of workers
- Lack of decent employment for young people
- Migration of entire families
- Alcoholism and drug addiction
- The disintegration of families
The Pope admitted that in the face of all these problems, the ecclesial community can seem confused, even tired. But it also can be lively and prophetic. And the Church continued to seek new ways to proclaim mercy.