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World News

Italian priest dodges poisoned chalice in suspected mafia hit

by Heather Preston

An investigation has been launched after an Italian Catholic priest narrowly avoided consuming poisoned communion wine during Mass, in what is suspected to be a mafia-related attack.

Fr Felice Palamara halted the service at San Nicola di Pannaconi Church, Cessaniti after detecting the smell of bleach as he went to sip from the communion chalice.

Following the incident, laboratory tests confirmed enough bleach had been present in the liquid to potentially kill and a police investigation was launched. Fr Felice, who has been vocal on his stance against organised crime has experienced various death threats and acts of vandalism whilst serving the Calabria area, according to local reports.

The attack is being considered as part of a broader campaign of intimidation against members of the clergy by organised crime and local mafia. Local parish priest Fr Francesco Pontoriero, has also faced death threats, as well as discovering a dead cat left on his car.

Fr Felice has been provided with police protection, whilst the investigation takes place.

Speaking to his parishioners on social media he said: “My revenge is called love, my shield pardon, my armour mercy … in the way of obstacles, nor will I be intimidated.”

Local government officials from Drapia declared their support for the priests and condemned the "vile acts" of "cowardice and intolerance" against them.

Bishop Attilio Nostro said the diocese was experiencing “a moment of suffering due to acts of intimidation that have nothing to do with the normal Christian life of the parishes.

“For this reason, I appeal anew to the Christian communities not to be discouraged by this language of violence,” he said. “We must not cede to this logic, allowing ourselves to be tempted by unease and anger.”


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