A PALERMO priest has called from the pulpit on members of the Mafia to "convert" and follow the way of Christ, writes Bruce Johnston in Rome.
"Look into the depths of your hearts," Fr Giovanni Scaletta, head of the diocesan Caritas organisation said in a general address to Mafia bosses during Mass at the Carmine church in Caccamo, the town of the mobster Nino Giuffre, who is on the run.
"For you there is also the possibility of conversion."
Present at the service was Enza Scimeca, the widow of Mico Geraci, a unionist who was killed two years ago.
The Mass was held following a number of Mafia arson attacks in their area. including a supermarket in Caccamo, and the murder a fortnight ago of Pino Gaeta, a local boss.
A PARISH priest in Italy died before horrified guests at the wedding luncheon of a young couple whom he had joined in marriage hours before, writes Bruce Johnston.
Fr Rolando Benelli, 57 and the parish priest of the Sane
tuary of the Madonna del Frassine, near Suvereto, central Italy. dropped down dead as he rose from his chair following hours of traditional Italian nuptial festivities in a local restaurant.
His funeral was due to take place la'edilesda■, in the same sanctuary where he had married the couple several days before.
Poland bans pornography
A saw against pornography was passed by the Polish parliament, but could still be vetoed by ex-Communist President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
The Bill, banning the import, distribution or sale of pornography and imposing prison terms for up to fiveyears on child molesters, was supported by the governing Solidarity party. but opposed by left-wingers, including the Freedom Union, Solidarity's junior coalition partner.
The sex industry has exploded in Poland after the collapse of Communism.
Church rains on parade
A PINK and purple painting of the Virgin Mary and a 13-foot cross were confiscated from a samba school in Rio de Janeiro following a charge brought by Cardinal Eugenio Sales.
Religious symbols are commonly used in the parades of the Carnival on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday despite a law criminalising slander against religion.
Another Sao Paulo samba school which was planning to use a statue of the Virgin Mary holding a dead Brazilian Indian instead of Jesus was criticised by the Catholic Brazilian Bishops
UN ties aid to birth control
THE UNITED Nations has halted financial help to hurricane-hit Nicaragua, after it rejected the linking of relief aid to population control measures.
NI.ARIX 5(X) people attended a Mass in Pittsburgh to remember the victims of a shooting rampage which left three dead and two critically wounded at the beginning of March.
Among those killed was Joseph A Healy, a Holy Ghost priest of 71.
"The only way to break the cycle of violence is to open our hearts to one another". said the Bishop of Pittsburgh, Donald Wuerl, during the homily.
Special report on UN meeting
IF oTtitqt meetings are anything to go by, I'm afraid we shall probably see an allout attack on motherhood over the next three months, writes Peter Smith, special correspondent at the meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York.
I have been attending these women's meetings for over Eve years now and 1 suspect that. as before, the extreme anti-life feminist agenda will be pushed by the western nations on the rest of the world.
The commission is preparing a document for the meeting to review the status of women since the 1995 Beijing Women's Conference. I'm sure they will try once again to get abortion established as a human right.
To counteract the expected assault on traditional values, we pro-family delegates will be sporting big red badges with the word "motherhood" on them. There are some people who find just that one word very provocative. Since there will he between 200 and 300 of us, we should look quite striking.
As an Evangelical, I often thank God that the Holy See sits in at UN meetings. It acts as the conscience of the world and is an inspiration to those countries which hold to an Abrahamic faith.
The commission's meeting will continue until March 17. The battle for the minds of the world here will be quite furious. Pray for us.
Peter Smith, an Australian Baptist, is secretary to the Evangelical division of SPUC.