Palermo, Italy, Mar 22, 2017 / 02:02 am
Hollywood precedent notwithstanding, an Italian bishop has announced that known members of the mafia cannot be godparents for the Catholic sacraments of baptism or confirmation.
The diocesan decree came from Michele Pennisi, Bishop of Monreale, near Palermo in Sicily, Italy.
“The mafia has always taken the term godfather from the church to give its bosses an air of religious respectability, whereas in fact the two worlds are completely incompatible,” the bishop said in the announcement.
He admitted that it may be hard to enforce, given the secrecy of the mafia, the Guardian reported.
“If someone has not been convicted we cannot judge people on rumours, without proof,” he said, adding that he would not ban anyone willing to repent of their actions.
“If one of them admits to having done wrong, asks to be pardoned for the bad they have done, in that case we can discuss a path of conversion.”
Pennisi has been outspoken against the mafia before, and received death threats in 2008 after he banned Catholic funerals for known mobsters.
According to Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, Bishop Pennisi made the decision after Giuseppe Riina, son of the notorious “boss of bosses” ‘Toto’ Riina, was allowed to act as a godfather at the Catholic baptism of his nephew.