Vatican City: A priest from Italy’s Sicily island who was killed by the mafia 20 years ago has been declared a martyr by Pope Benedict, and may even attain sainthood if a miracle is attributed to him.
Giuseppe Pino Puglisi was “killed in hatred of the faith” in Palermo, the Vatican said.
He was shot dead in front of his parish church Sep 15, 1993 on his 56th birthday.
A mafia hitman said Puglisi’s last words were: “I’ve been expecting you.”
Now, if a miracle is attributed to the slain priest, he can be declared a saint.
Puglisi was inspired to fight the mafia in his native Palermo when a cardinal from the city brushed off the criminal gang, questioning its very existence.
“We can, we must criticise the church when we feel it doesn’t respond to our expectations, because it’s absolutely right to seek to improve it,” Puglisi had said regarding inaction by the church in combating the mafia.