God not Mafia’s Side, Sicilian Archbishop says after trial

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ROME (Reuters). – 39 Italians were sentenced to prison for diverting a Good Friday pilgrimage to the house of a Mafia Family and paying homage a crime boss.

The archbishop of Sicily said that he hoped it would discourage others from doing something similar in the future.

Archbishop Luigi Renna released a statement saying that it was wrong to invoke God or his names.

Locals were carrying Jesus Christ’s statue through San Michele Di Ganzaria in Sicilian during the Easter 2016 when a group of people stopped it and forced it to go before Francesco La Rocca.

La Rocca was in prison for several Mafia-related criminal acts. However, his wife came to greet the well wishesers and made an offer.

San Michele Di Ganzaria’s priest and mayor refused to follow the procession off its official route, and condemned those who diverted it.

The group was convicted of inciting others to commit criminal acts and disturbing a religious event. The eight ringleaders were sentenced to three-year terms. The others received sentences of six months to two years and nine months respectively.

The Catania archbishop stated that “this sentence is certain to make people suffer. But I hope that the suffering will bear fruits.”

It is common for organised crime to see itself as part of a religious, or cult-like, group in Italy. Many invoke saints’ help and use religious statues in their initiation rituals.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante, Writing by Crispian Malmer; Editing by Barbara Lewis

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