Sicilian bishop braves Mafia death threats

.- A Sicilian bishop who refused to celebrate the funeral Mass of a mafia boss is under police protection after receiving death threats, BBC News reports.

Crocefisso Emanuello, head of a notorious Mafia family, died of natural causes at the age of 81.  Though the family of the mob boss wanted to hold the requiem Mass in the cathedral of the Diocese of Piazza Amerina, Bishop Michele Pennisi refused.

The funeral was held in a nearby town and conducted by a Franciscan monk.  By police order, there was no funeral oration and many plainclothes detectives were seated among the mourners.

One of Emanuello’s sons had been shot and killed by police in December while he was trying to evade arrest.  Three other sons are in jail serving long sentences for murder and other crimes.

While church leaders in Sicily used to turn a blind eye to Mafia crime in the past, Catholic leaders now maintain strong opposition to it.

"Men of the Church must do their bit to fight the Mafia," said Bishop Pennisi, according to BBC News.


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