Bl. Giuseppe “Pino” Puglis, Oct. 21

This (beautiful) man died in 1993 and was beatified earlier this year. He was a priest in Sicily who stood up to the mafia. He is included here because he also challenged Church authorities.

His archbishop, Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini, had a passive attitude towards the Mafia, even claiming at one time that they were fictional, and that nobody knew what the Mafia really was: “So far as I know, it could be a brand of detergent.” However, Fr. Puglisi was well aware of the Mafia influence in his parish and suggested that Cardinal Ruffini needed to be corrected, albeit he added: “We should always criticize it [the Church] like a mother, never a mother in law.” He also tried to change his parishioners’ mentality, which was conditioned by fear, passivity and omerta (imposed silence).

Bl. Giuseppe "Pino" Puglis, Priest, Martyr

Bl. Giuseppe “Pino” Puglis, Priest, Martyr

He refused to permit known Mafia gangsters from marching at the head of religious processions, a Mafia tradition, and was the first known priest to confront men attempting to do so. Unable to control him with money or intimidation, Fr, Puglisi became a target for the organization. On September 15, 1993, two hitmen approached him in front of his parish. Fr. Puglisi spoke his last words, greeting the men saying, “I’ve been expecting you.” One of the men then fired a single bullet at point-blank range.

Following his death, there was a loud public outcry for justice. Anti-Mafia graffiti was painted across the region with his signature quote, “And what if somebody did something?

Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, archbishop of Palermo, told Vatican Radio that “the message Father Puglisi left is that one must not be afraid of those who threaten, [but] only of those who can destroy spiritual values.”

 

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