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November 11, 1994     The Message
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November 11, 1994

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2 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Pope visits Sicily, continues battles with Mafia By AGOSTINO BONO Catholic News Service SYRACUSE, Sicily (CNS) Pope John Paul II and the Mafia continued their battle during a Nov. 4-6 papal visit to Sicily, the criminal organiza- tion's home turf. While the pope urged an end to "timid mediocrity" in the battle against crime, a lamb with its throat slit was found on a prison chaplain's doorstep with a sign saying: "The same will happen to you." The event emphasized the strong determination and courage n'eeded to reduce the Mafia's tentacle-like grip on Si- cilian society. The pope advocated such de- termination and courage. "Rise up and dress yourself in light and justice," he said in his first speech, setting the tone for his anti-crime crusade. "There can be no room for cow- ardice or inertia," he told thou- sands of people in Catania Nov. 4, the first of two cities on the papal tour. Pope John Paul criticized the Mafia by name several times and praised Father Giuseppe Puglisi, an anti- Mafia priest killed last year. Before the pope had time to carry his crusade to Syracuse, the other city on his schedule, the Mafia reacted. The morn- ing after the pope arrived in Sicily, Father Gino Sacchetti, a prison chaplain who was orga- nizing a rehabilitation center for drug addicts, found the dead lamb on his doorstep. "The Mafia exists," Father Sacchetti, who lives in Termini Imerese, near the Sicilian capi- tal of Palermo, said in newspa- per interviews. The dead lamb is "a warning coming at a spe- cial time, the visit of the pope in Sicily." "I'm worried but I don't in- tend to leave," said the priest, whose car was burned in an arson attack in September. The pope almost anticipated the threat. In a message to ju- venile prisoners vritten six months earlier when he was originally scheduled to visit, he praised prison chaplains and their difficult work of bringing "religious guidelines" to prison- ers. He asked chaplains to stand firm in their work. The pope handed the mes- sage to a group of young pris- oners Nov. 5. His trip six months earlier had to be post- poned after he broke his right thigh. The message also encour- aged the young prisoners to free themselves "from the power of the Mafia and other dark forces." Those who are "stained with human blood must answer be- fore the justice of God," said the message. Prior to the pope's trip, church leaders had urged him to continue the anti-Mafia cru- sade launched during a 1993 visit to Sicily. The pope's strong 1993 talk also sparked Mafia reaction. Two important Rome churches were bombed and Father Puglisi killed after that visit. Police blamed the Mafia for the incidents. The fear of anti-Mafia church leaders was that a softer papal stand this year could deflate crime fighting programs, giving the popular impression that the Mafia had succeeded in intimidating the church. Sicilian society is still per- meated with "the always open, painful and bloody plague of the Mafia, with its under- handed arrogance, with its ten- tacles and its recurring mur- ders," said Archbishop Luigi Bommarito of Catania in an open letter to the pope less than three weeks before the start of the visit. Fighting the Mafia means more than combatting crime, he said. It means changing the "daily mentality" and "wide- spread Mafia culture" in soci- ety, he added. The archbishop was refer- ring to the Mafia's deep roots in society and the codes of honor, patronage and silence that it imposes. These codes often keep noncriminals depen- dent on the organization, pre- vent them from cooperating with police and make them in- different to crime-fighting pro- grams. Archbishop Giuseppe Costanzo of Syracuse asked the pope to "help us in the true fight against the Mafia @hich is won by regenerating souls, announcing the Gospel and mobilizing consciences." A main aim of church lead- ers is to reach children, espe- cially in poor areas which are fertile grounds for Mafia re- cruitment, and teach them al- ternatives to a criminal life. "Find the strength to be good and contribute to bettering the world," the pope told children in Syracuse Nov. 6 in his last speech before leaving Sicily. "Let Jesus put in your hands his peaceful weapons, not the knives and pistols you see on television and, unfortunately, sometimes in real life." The day before, the pope told youths in Catania that when a new generation learns to live Gospel values such as love, peace and benevolence "corrup- tion is defeated, violence is de- feated, the Mafia is defeated." During the papal visit, church leaders said that reach- ing youths also means over- coming social problems, espe- cially high unemployment, which gives law-abiding young people little hope of a decent life. The unemployment rate in the Catania-Syracuse area is about 30 percent, while the na- tional average is about 12 per- cent. About 70 percent of the Catania-Syracuse unemployed are people 18-26 years old. "The situation is dramatic and risks becoming explosive," said Archbishop Costanzo. Pope John Paul and church leaders also stressed the posi- tive values in Sicilian society. Prior to the papal visit, the Catania Archdiocese collected letters from youths and com- piled them into a book for the pope. A capital donation Members of the Men's Club at St. Joseph Church, Evansville, capital campaign at the Monastery Immaculate Conception. Above, $25,000 check to Benedictine Sister Kathryn Huber are Fred Dewig, Randy Sendelweck and Vic Kuhn. Pope jokes about cane, reaffi plans to continue travel By AGOSTINO BONO Catholic News Service SYRACUSE, Sicily (CNS) -- Pope John Paul II joked about his silver-tipped black cane during a Nov. 4-6 trip to Sicily but reaffirmed plans to con- tinue his world travels, even if it means limping across the globe. Several times he told young- sters in Catania and Syracuse that he expects to see them again Jan. 15 in Manila, Philippines, for World Youth Day. "I think this cane will make it" to Manila, he said in off-the- cuff remarks at a Nov. 5 youth rally in Catania. The cane has been the pope's constant companion since he broke his right thigh last April. The pope has been walking with a limp following surgery to replace part of the fractured bone. "Some say that the cane has aged me. Others say that the cane has rejuvenated me," he told the Catania youths. "Does the cane make me older or make me younger? Are you pro-cane or anti-cane?" After gauging the applause, the pope said, "! see that you are pro-cane." The Sicily trip showed signs of papal recuperation. He was walking faster and not shuf- fling his feet, as he did during a trip to Zagreb, Croatia, two months earlier. Papal travel organizers have said that the Manila trip would also include stops in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka. Papal organizers say the pope is thinking about visiting Belgium and the Czech Repub- lic in the spring. Vatican sources say if he goes to the Czech Republic he will also go to Slovakia. The pope also has expressed wishes to travel to Africa and to U.N. headquar- ters in New York later in 1995. At the same time, the Sicily trip was an example of the new scaled-down version of papal travel since the broken leg. The pope held one major public event each morning and another each afternoon. In the two-and-a-half days in Sicily, the pope read six speeches and handed another one to a dele- gation of juvenile prisoners who came to visit him. Origi- nally the pope was to visit the youngsters in prison. On previous trips, Pope John Paul would often read six speeches a day, and the trips were crowded with public events. In deference to his problems with mobility, a spe- cial elevator was built behind the altar for the outdoor Mass Nov. 5 in Catania. It saved the pope having to climb 12 steps. Vatican organizers began ex- HAMM'S MUSIC The best in musical instruments and accessories Church Supplies and Christian Literature SERVING SCHOOLS IN SOUTHERN INDIANA Washington, IN 254-0643 perimenting with trips during overnight stay first trip fall in his caused the broken The papal visit place six months nally planned dent happened the original date. Trips to Bell United NatiOns U.S. cities because PRIME /:ORAL/. 1 393 3rd. A'.,