Priest who defied mafia beatified

An Italian priest who stirred consciences with his anti-mafia preaching and was gunned down by mobsters has been honoured 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 neighbourhood.

He was killed in 1993, a few months after Pope John Paul II visited Sicily and urged priests to rally the faithful against organised 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.

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