People wait for the arrival of Pope Francis, in Piazza Armerina, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Pope Francis is visiting Sicily to pay tribute to an Italian priest, father Pino Puglisi, who was slain by the Mafia for his efforts to distance young people from organized crime.(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope paying tribute in Sicily to priest slain by Mafia

September 15, 2018 - 12:53 am

PALERMO, Sicily (AP) — Pope Francis is paying tribute in Sicily to a priest who worked to keep youths away from the Mafia and was slain by mobsters.

Francis says he flew to the Mediterranean island Saturday morning to mark the 25th anniversary of the assassination in a Palermo slum of a "martyr priest," the Rev. Giuseppe "Pino" Puglisi, who was beatified in 2013.

The daylong visit to honor a priest who encouraged young people in a poor Palermo neighborhood to spurn Cosa Nostra comes as the Catholic church is battered by revelations that many priests and bishops sexually abused children or protected abusers.

Pressure is building on Francis to say what he knew about the sexual misconduct of U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick, who recently was stripped of his cardinal's rank by the pope.