Vatican Beatifies Mob-Fighting Priest

'Pino' Puglisi was gunned down while preaching against mafia in Italy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 25, 2013 9:00 AM CDT
Vatican Beatifies Mob-Fighting Priest
Doves fly over the crowd in front of a giant picture of Rev. Giuseppe Puglisi during his beatification ceremony in Palermo, Sicily, Saturday.   (AP Photo/Alessandro Fucarini)

An Italian priest who stirred consciences with his anti-mafia preaching and was gunned down by mobsters has been honored by the Vatican as a martyr. The Rev. Giuseppe `'Pino" Puglisi was beatified in a ceremony today in Palermo, the Sicilian capital where he worked in a mobster-infested, poor neighborhood. He was slain in 1993, a few months after Pope John Paul II visited Sicily and urged priests to rally the faithful against organized crime. Puglisi encouraged young people, often jobless and easily recruited by Cosa Nostra, to turn their backs on the mob. Beatification is the last formal step in the Catholic church's process before possible sainthood. (Read more beatification stories.)

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