Italian judge killed by Mafia is put on road to sainthood

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Italian judge Rosario Livatino, who was killed by the Mafia in Sicily in 1990, was beatified on Sunday, the last stage before possible sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

Livatino worked as a prosecutor in Sicily dealing with the criminal activity of the mafia throughout the 1980s. He confronted what Italians later called the “Tangentopoli,” the corrupt system of mafia bribes and kickbacks given for public works contracts.

Livatino was gunned down by a Mafia hit squad, which shot at his car as he was driving along a Sicilian highway. Despite the risks, he had refused an armed escort. He tried to flee his attackers, but was caught and killed in a field. 

Known as the “boy judge” because he looked younger than his 37 years, Livatino had led many investigations into the mob at a time when Sicilian clans were involved in a full-blown war.

Undated file photo showing magistrate Rosario Livatino, killed in Agrigento by Sicilian mafia. A parish priest of Palermo, Don Cosimo Scordato, proposed 31 December 1998 to beatify Livatino and magistrate Paolo Borsellino, both killed by mafia, after cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi announced 29 December his intention to begin the procedure to beatify don Giuseppe Puglisi, killed by mafia in 1983, as “first martyr victim of mafia”. EPA/ANSA FILES

He was beatified at a service in Agrigento cathedral in Sicily, where a glass box containing his bloodstained shirt was put on display as a relic. Speaking to pilgrims in the Vatican City, Pope Francis praised the young magistrate.

“In his service to the community as an upstanding judge, who never allowed himself to become corrupt, he strived to judge not to condemn but to rehabilitate,” Francis said.

“May his example be for everyone, especially for judges, an incentive to be loyal defenders of lawfulness and freedom.”

Three years after his death, Pope John Paul visited Sicily and hailed Livatino as a “martyr of justice”.

Pope Francis put him on the road to possible sainthood in December, approving a decree of martyrdom which meant there was no need for a miracle to be attributed to Livatino’s intercession with God for him to be beatified.

A miracle would have to be attributed to Livatino in order for him to be declared a saint.

Roman Catholic Church teaches that only God performs miracles, but that saints who are believed to be with God in heaven intercede on behalf of people who pray to them. A miracle is usually the medically inexplicable healing of a person.

lessed Rosario Livatino is the first judge to be beatified in the history of the Church, saying he “courageously carried out his profession as a form of lay mission.”

The working group will seek to study the theme of excommunication of mafia members, work with Bishops around the world, and promote various initiatives in this field.

The team is made up of Vittorio V. Alberti, Rosy Bindi, Luigi Ciotti, Marcello Cozzi, Raffaele Grimaldi, Michele Pennisi, Giuseppe Pignatone, and Ioan Alexandru Pop.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters/Vatican News)