A judge who was murdered by the Italian mafia three decades ago has become the first-ever judge to be beatified as a martyr in the history of the Catholic Church.
Rosario Livatino, who was shot and killed in 1990 by gunmen hired by the Stidda and Cosa Nostra crime syndicates, was beatified in Sicily on Sunday, putting him on the path to canonisation as a saint.
A Vatican news press release said the judge had “courageously carried out his profession as a form of lay mission.”
The beatification took place in the Cathedral of Agrigento on Sunday, led by Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
As he was beatified, the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development said it has set up a “working group” dedicated to “excommunications of mafia members.”
Speaking after the Regina Coeli prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis said the magistrate was "a martyr of justice and faith" whose work "placed him firmly under the protection of God".
“In his service to the common good, as an exemplary judge who never succumbed to corruption, he sought to judge not to condemn but to redeem,” said the Pope.
The Pope urged other judges to follow the “heroic” example of Livatino and learn from him how to be "faithful defenders of the rule of law and of freedom".