In a telegramme addressed to the Archbishop of Agrigento in Sicily on Wednesday evening, Holy Father Pope Francis marked the 25th anniversary of Saint Pope John Paul II’s visit to the town of Agrigento where he denounced the mafia’s organized criminal activities and called on ‘mafiosi’ criminals to convert.

In his message the Pontiff recalled that St. John Paul II’s prophetic appeal came at the end of Holy Mass on 9 May 1993, celebrated in the famous archaeological site of the Valley of Temples in Agrigento, and said that he too, on this important anniversary, has an appeal for young people today to resist the call of organized crime.

Pope Francis encouraged the Church in Sicily and its flock to continue on the path set by the Blessed Father Pino Puglisi (who was killed by the mafia in Palermo in 1993 for his work to denounce mafia activities and to help people resist organized crime) saying that evil is to be fought, “gently and courageously as indicated by the Gospel, in everyday life”, and especially by teaching young people to do so.