Sicilian archbishop challenges Mafia in its heartland

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MILAN (AP) — A Sicilian archbishop is taking on the Mafia in its heartland.

Monsignor Michele Pennisi is traveling to the Mafia stronghold of Corleone later this month to offer reflections on whether the mob sometimes cloaks itself in religion.

Pennisi, the archbishop of Monreale, recently contested a Corleone parish priest's decision to allow the son of Italy's most notorious mobster to become his niece's godfather during a baptism ceremony.

He followed up with a decree forbidding anyone convicted of "dishonorable crimes" or whose behavior provokes scandal from acting as a godparent.

Pennisi said Thursday that he timed March 26 visit to coincide with a day of remembrance for organized crime victims.

After a Mass, he plans to plant a pomegranate tree as a "gesture of hope for a territory fragmented by violence."

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