Pope Francis has told the Sicilian mafia to abandon a life of crime and violence and stop being so selfish.
He said that they needed to stop thinking only of themselves and their money, saying that the island needed "men and women of love, not men and women of honor".
The pontiff appealed to the criminals during his visit to the house of a priest of Palermo shot to death by men of the mafia.
Pope Francis used his speech in Palermo to appeal to the Sicilian Mafia to abandon a criminal life
He visited the Sicilian capital to commemorate Father Giuseppe & # 39; Pino & # 39; Puglisi, a priest shot to death by men of the Mafia in 1993
Francis, in the Sicilian capital, said members of organized crime, many of whom go to church and worship openly, "can not believe in God and be gangsters" at the same time.
In his appeal, he referred to them as "dear brothers and sisters."
He visited Palermo to commemorate Father Giuseppe & # 39; Pino & # 39; Puglisi, a priest shot dead by Mafia men in 1993 because he challenged the organization's control over one of the most difficult neighborhoods in the city.
Francis visited the house of Father Puglisi (pictured) during his trip to the Mediterranean island
Puglisi died on his 56th birthday during a bloody mafia offensive against the state
Puglisi was killed on his 56th birthday during a bloody mafia offensive against the state and anyone else who threatened the existence of the group.
The magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino were killed in two bombings in Palermo in 1992.
"A person who is a mobster does not live as a Christian because with his life he blasphemes against the name of God," Francis said in a mass sermon of some 80,000 people in the port area of the Sicilian capital.
The crowd interrupted his sermon with applause each time he denounced the mafia.
Pope Francis kisses a disabled woman, handing her a wreath of flowers
The pontiff kisses a small child when he meets residents in the poor neighborhood of Brancaccio
Francis gently touches the head of a disabled child in a wheelchair as a sign of compassion
The Catholic Church in southern Italy has had a troubled history of relations with the Mafia. Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini, who was archbishop of Palermo between 1945 and 1967, denied the existence of the mafia, considering that communism is the Church's greatest threat.
"I say to Mafiosi: Change, brothers and sisters, stop thinking about yourself and your money … Become the true God, Jesus Christ, dear brothers and sisters," he said in his sermon on the dock.
"I tell you, Mafiosi, if you do not do this, your life will be lost and that will be your biggest defeat," he said.
The Pope puts a bouquet of flowers to show his respect for the murdered priest Puglisi
& # 39; Today, we need men and women of love, not men and women of honor; men and women of service, not oppression. "
Later, on his way to the airport, Francis made an unscheduled stop to pray and put flowers on the road where Falcone, his wife and three police officers were flown when his caravan passed on May 23, 1992.
Many members of organized crime groups in Italy, such as the Cosa Nostra of Sicily and the Ndrangheta of Calabria, see themselves as part of a cult religious group, invoking the help of the saints for their activities.
Tens of thousands lined the streets to take a look at Francis when he arrived at the Popemobile
Here he greets the faithful on the lawn facing the sea of Foro Italico in Palermo
Francis is received with great fanfare while he meets the clergy in the Cathedral of Palermo
Particularly in smaller towns and cities of the south, they take part in the Catholic sacraments and in some cases they have also found the complicity of some ecclesiastics.
Puglisi refused to follow suit. With little support from the ecclesiastical hierarchy in Sicily, he preached against the mafia from the pulpit of his church in the rough neighborhood of Brancaccio, then controlled by the Graviano family.
He helped young people in an area with high unemployment to avoid the trap of the mafia, asked the parishioners to help in the police investigations, rejected the donations of the mobsters and forbade them to join the traditional religious processions in the streets.
Families huddled by their windows to try to take a look and take pictures of Pope Francis
The pontiff listens to the members of the Mission of Hope and Charity (Missione di Speranza e Carita) playing music
The murder of Puglisi was ordered by local chiefs Filippo and Giuseppe Graviano. Those in distress and the four men who planned or carried out the murder were convicted in 1998. All but one received life imprisonment.
One of the murderers, who later turned over the state's evidence, said that while Puglisi was dying he said: "I've been waiting for you."
In 2012, the ex Pope Benedict XVI decreed that Puglisi died as a martyr in "hatred of the faith" and ordered that he be beatified, the last step before sanctification in the Church.