Almost three decades after being declared a martyr by Pope John Paul II, an Italian judge murdered by the mafia in Sicily took a step closer to sainthood on Sunday.
In a preface to a new book about the judge, Pope Francis talked about Livatino stating that he was a “righteous man who knew he did not deserve that unjust death”.
Many of his notes were later found to be marked STD, for “sub tutela Dei”, a Latin invocation meaning “under the protection of God” which judges of the Middle Ages used before taking official decisions, according to VOA News.
The notes also showed he asked God’s forgiveness for the risks his work exposed his parents to, once he learned that the bosses of the Cosa Nostra had him in their sights.
When John Paul II visited Livatino’s parents in 1993, he said the former judge was “a martyr for justice and indirectly for the faith”.
Under Church law, if martyrdom is established, then beatification — the penultimate accolade before canonization — moves ahead quickly without the proof of miracles required of other candidates for sainthood.
The two mafia members who killed Livatino, identified by a man who drove past at the moment of the crime, were convicted and given life sentences.
“He understood that would lead to a weakening of the clans, their loss of control and also of social control,” Ciotti wrote in another biography of the Livatino.
Since he was elected Pope in 2013, Francis has spoken out consistently against organized crime groups.
In an open-air mass in Sicily in September 2018, during a trip to honor a priest killed by the mafia 25 years earlier, the Argentine pontiff condemned those who belong to the mafia as “blasphemous”.
“You can’t believe in God and belong to the mafia,” he most-notably said.
His impassioned plea echoed the words of John Paul II who, during his May 1993 trip to the island, had also called on mobsters to abandon crime, and urged Sicilians to revolt against the mafia.
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