PALERMO, Sicily (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI is starting a one-day visit to Palermo, where Sicilians hope he will use his words and presence to give a boost to efforts to try to rid the island of the Mafia.
Benedict sat under a canopy shielding him from the sun on an esplanade at the edge of the sea in this port city as tens of thousands of people waited for his celebration of Mass.
In the days before his arrival, some Catholics have appealed for the pontiff to declare as a martyr a Palermo priest who was slain by the Mafia in 1993 for trying to galvanize people to oppose organized crime.
Palermo Mayor Diego Cammarata drew cheers from the crowd when he
recalled the slain Rev. Pino Puglisi as an inspiration for continued anti-Mafia efforts.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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