Pope to visit mafia heartland

Pope Benedict XVI will on Sunday make first visit of his papacy to Palermo.

Updated: Oct 01, 2010, 10:46 AM IST

Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI will on Sunday make the first visit of his papacy to Palermo in Sicily, where campaigners said on Thursday they hoped he would use the occasion to condemn the mafia.

Benedict`s predecessor Jean Paul II in 1995 -- on the last of his five visits to the southern Italian island -- attacked mafia killings, saying "no man, no human association, no mafia can change nor trample under foot the right to life."

"We hope that the pope has strong words against the mafia, in particular here in Sicily, even if the mafia phenomenon is not only Sicilian but is spread across Italy and the world," said Father Toni Dell`Olio, of Libera, the largest anti-mafia organisation in Italy.
He said he hoped the pontiff would send out the message that "the mafia and Christianity are incompatible”.