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Originally published Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 5:04 AM

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Priest who defied Mafia is beatified in Sicily

An Italian priest who stirred consciences with his anti-Mafia preaching and was gunned down by mobsters has been honored by the Vatican as a martyr.

The Associated Press

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ROME —

An Italian priest who stirred consciences with his anti-Mafia preaching and was gunned down by mobsters has been honored by the Vatican as a martyr.

The Rev. Giuseppe `'Pino" Puglisi was beatified in a ceremony Saturday in Palermo, the Sicilian capital where he worked in a mobster-infested, poor neighborhood.

He was slain in 1993, a few months after Pope John Paul II visited Sicily and urged priests to rally the faithful against organized crime.

Puglisi encouraged young people, often jobless and easily recruited by Cosa Nostra, to turn their backs on the mob.

Beatification is the last formal step in the Catholic church's process before possible sainthood.

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