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Sunday 20 August 2017

Corleone caught up in new godfather saga

A crucifix towers over Corleone, Italy, the ancestral home and surname of the title characters in The Godfather films (AP)
A crucifix towers over Corleone, Italy, the ancestral home and surname of the title characters in The Godfather films (AP)

The Mafia stronghold of Corleone has produced another godfather saga - but this one is unlikely to end up as a movie.

A bishop in Sicily is contesting a parish priest's decision to allow the son of Italy's most notorious mobster to become his niece's godfather during a baptism ceremony in December.

Archbishop Michele Pennisi was quoted on Thursday by the Ansa news agency as saying that neither he nor the Vatican hierarchy had been informed of the Corleone priest's plans to allow Giuseppe Salvatore "Salvo" Riina - the son of Salvatore "Toto" Riina - to become a godfather in the Catholic Church.

Mr Pennisi said: "A godfather must be the guarantor of the faith, must set an example with his actions.

"I am not aware that the young man has ever expressed words of repentance for his conduct."

Mr Pennisi's position is in close alignment with the Vatican.

During a trip to Calabria in 2014, Pope Francis declared that all mobsters are automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

More recently, the archbishop in southern Reggio Calabria-Bova, Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, requested permission to suspend the practice of assigning godparents in a bid to avoid creating conflict around the sacrament of baptism.

The elder Riina was captured in 1993 after years as a fugitive and is serving a life sentence after being convicted of several murders.

The younger Riina served an eight-year sentence for Mafia association and was not permitted to return to his hometown, Corleone, to live upon his release six years ago.

Instead, he was assigned to live in the northern city of Padua, where his release terms restrict his movements, forcing him to obtain permission from a judge to travel for the baptism.

Corleone is the ancestral home and surname of the title characters in The Godfather films.

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