Sunday, December 10, 2006

Requiescat in Pace

The death occurred today of Salvatore Cardinal Pappalardo, former archbishop of Palermo. He was 88.

A Roman by birth, Pappalardo spent some time as a diplomat in Indonesia before being appointed President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the renowned training ground of most high level papal diplomats (a notable exception being the current Secretary of State!).

Pappalardo was translated to the see of Palermo in October 1970 and was appointed a Cardinal in March 1973, the same time as a certain Albino Luciani.

However it is for his strident opposition to the Mafia that Pappalardo will be best remembered. Speaking at the funeral of an assassinated police chief in 1982, the Cardinal famously suggested, borrowing his words from the Roman historian Sallust, "While in Rome they pondered what to do, the city of Saguntum was vanquished by enemies." He went on to add "Yet this time it is not Saguntum, but Palermo! Our poor Palermo!" The point was clear, the Italian government was not doing enough to root out the cancer of Cosa Nostra in Sicily.

Cardinals wear red as a symbol of their willingness to shed blood for the faith. While it never came to that point for Pappalardo he did have to endure police protection and armoured transport due to his outspokenness.

"His efforts against the Mafia, made amid risks and hostility ... were of deep value to the church and to all civil society," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi today told Italy's ANSA news agency.

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