News Headlines > Campaigning priest defiant in face of Mafia death threats

01 September 2014 | by Liz Dodd

Campaigning priest defiant in face of Mafia death threats

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A priest at the frontline of the battle against the Mafia has said death threats made against him by criminal overlord Salvatore “Toto” Riina will not frighten him into retreat.

During a conversation last September that was recorded using a wiretap Riina, once the most powerful member of the Sicilian Mafia, allegedly said that Fr Luigi Ciotti was “a copy” of Blessed Pino Puglisi, a priest and activist who was murdered by the Mafia in 1993 and recently beatified.

“Ciotti, Ciotti, well kill him", he said, according to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Riina is currently serving a prison sentence for multiple murders.

Fr Ciotti, who founded the anti-mafia group Libera, told La Repubblica the threats were “very significant” in a statement, adding that they were directed towards anyone who was committed to justice and integrity.

"For me, the commitment (to fight organised crime) has always been an act of faith in the Gospel, to denounce injustice and violence, to stand on the side of the victims, the poor, the excluded," he added.

In June Pope Francis launched an attack on the Italian mafia, saying that mobsters adore evil and are excommunicated.

Speaking at the end of a day trip to Calabria in southern Italy, home to the ‘Ndrangheta, a Mafia-type criminal organisation, Francis said that mobsters had contempt for the common good and must be stopped.

“This evil must be fought, must be expelled. It must be told no,” he said.

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