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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 17:35 GMT
Mafia threatens Sicilian bishop
By David Willey
BBC News, Rome

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A Sicilian bishop is under police protection after receiving death threats for refusing to celebrate the funeral of a Mafia boss.

The funeral was held instead in another nearby town with a Franciscan monk conducting the ceremony.

There was no funeral oration, by police order, at the requiem mass for Crocefisso Emanuello.

The head of a notorious Mafia family, he died earlier this week of natural causes at the age of 81.

The mourners at the funeral were almost all women - most of the men present for the ceremony were plain clothes detectives.

Men of the Church must do their bit to fight the Mafia
Bishop of Piazza Armerina

They were keeping a watchful eye over the proceedings after the local bishop received death threats for refusing to allow the funeral to be held inside his cathedral.

Mr Emanuello's son Daniele was shot dead by police last December. He was trying to avoid capture while on the run.

Three other sons are currently in jail serving long sentences for murder and other Mafia crimes.

They sent large wreaths in memory of their father.

"Men of the Church must do their bit to fight the Mafia," said the bishop of Piazza Armerina in central Sicily, who refused the family's request for a cathedral ceremony.

The Roman Catholic Church has now joined in the fight against organised crime.

It was a different story a generation ago when church leaders in Sicily often used to condone Mafia crime.

One former archbishop of Palermo went as far as to proclaim that the very word Mafia was the invention of Socialists and Marxists.

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