VATICAN CITY, DEC. 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI expressed sadness on learning of the death of Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, a renowned opponent of the Sicilian Mafia. The retired archbishop of Palermo died Sunday at age 88.
In a telegram sent to Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, current archbishop of Palermo, the Pope expressed his sympathy to the Sicilian archdiocesan community in which Cardinal Pappalardo carried out “with solicitude the episcopal ministry.”
In particular, the Holy Father recalled “with admiration his fruitful and multiple apostolic activity, animated by the desire to proclaim Christ and to support with his enlightened teaching the moral and cultural growth of Palermo’s society.”
Born in 1918, Salvatore Pappalardo represented the Holy See in the diplomatic service. Pope Paul VI appointed him archbishop of Palermo in 1970 and elevated him to cardinal in 1973.
The symbol of his struggle against the Mafia were the words he expressed at the funeral of the general of the “carabinieri,” Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, a victim of the criminal organization. The cardinal accused the state of leaving Sicily in the hands of the Mafia.
For his opposition against the Mafia, the cardinal was conferred the title Knight of the Grand Cross of the Italian Republic by President Sandro Pertini.
With the death of the cardinal, the College of Cardinals now has a total of 186 members, including 114 electors who could participate in a conclave.