Current Affairs
Unless he changes his life, the mafioso cannot be Christian – Palermo Archbishop

The Archbishop of Palermo, Mons. Corrado Lorefice, said that faced by the challenge of immigration in the Mediterranean, the people in the West also need to shoulder responsibility for the poverty and wars in the countries from which the immigrants are fleeing.  Well-known for his work among the poor and victims of human trafficking, Mons Lorefice was interviewed by TVM during which he also spoke about the mafia. He made it clear that unless a mafioso changes his life, he cannot be considered a Christian.

Mon. Lorefice was appointed Archbishop of Palermo three years ago, in what was considered a surprise move by Pope Francis because Lorefice, who was 52 at the time, was not being mentioned for the post.  The Pope’s decision was probably motivated by his untiring work among the people, especially the poor, immigrants, prostitutes and the disadvantaged in the diocese of Noto, Sicily.

Archbishop Lorefice was recently in Malta to lead a retreat for a group of Gozitan priests. He told TVM that faced by the challenge of immigration, the whole of Europe needs to remember that these people are fleeing poverty and wars and we have to have the courage to say that the circumstances in these countries are also being created by the West.

“The predators of Africa are people from the West! They are fleeing poverty which we ourselves are creating. We only think about the businessmen, the multinational companies, which still go to these continents to exploit them, and so the people are forced to flee from poverty.  But then, those who flee because of hunger are still risking their lives and those of women and defenceless, innocent children when they cross the Mediterranean.”

He said that European countries cannot just let all this unfold, but apart from every notion of nation and religion, the human being needs to look deep into his heart and ensure that these human tragedies no longer occur.

Questioned about the mafia, Archbishop Lorefice said that to kill others in order to achieve economic power goes against the Gospel.  He also reminded people in the world of Jesus Christ who said, “you cannot serve both God and money”.

“If one walks in this path, one cannot be Christian. Everyone has the possibility of changing their life, but it has to be made clear that the mafioso is not a Christian,” he said.

The Palermo Archbishop was a friend of Dun Pino Puglisi, a priest who used to serve in Brancaccio, Palermo, and who used to speak up a lot against the Mafia.  Puglisi was killed by the Mafia in 1991, on his 56th birthday. Mons Lorefice said that in that area known for its mafia bosses, Don Pino used to have the courage to often say that in God we need to recognise Our Father, and no one should recognise other ‘godfathers’ or other ‘capos’.

Archbishop Lorefice works tirelessly with Caritas and other organisations which help the poor, immigrants and the disadvantaged. He said that on the lines and example of the Good Samaritan,  the Christian community must give immediate answers to the urgent matters we face in our times.

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