Courtyard of the Gentiles Goes to Palermo

Discussions on the Mafia and Organized Crime Scheduled for March

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ROME, JAN. 26, 2012 (Zenit.org).- After Bologna, Paris, Bucharest, Florence, Rome and Tirana, the "Courtyard of the Gentiles" will now meet in the Sicilian capital, Palermo, on March 29-30.

The "Courtyard of the Gentiles" -- a reference to the courtyard of the Temple of Jerusalem reserved for pagans-- will be an occasion to address another problem that challenges the contemporary world: the mafia and the problem of organized crime as a whole.

Palermo's magistrate Giusto Sciacchitano, an anti-mafia attorney, spoke with Vatican Radio last week about the initiative.

"[The mafia] is a cultural, political, sociological and economic problem that concerns the world," said Giusto Sciacchitano. And the mafia "must certainly be countered with juridical means but also with cultural means, because the mafia is based on an 'in-culture.'"

In Palermo, a crossroads of culture and traditions, but also a place and symbol of the fight against organized crime, a cultural event like this could be "of great importance from several points of view," said the anti-mafia expert.

In the first place, insofar as it takes up the historical situation of Sicily, dominated for centuries by so many different peoples, by their culture, by their juridical systems, "we had in any case to converse" and this conversation became a kind of habit.

However, there is also the fact that Palermo, which can be considered the capital of the mafia, has also been recognized by the U.N. as the capital of the anti-mafia. The United Nations Convention against organized crime was, in fact, signed in the Sicilian capital.

These two aspects, one negative, the other positive, which are shaping forces of a culture, be it at the local or world level, call for a universal vision and the meeting in Palermo will be an occasion to look at the "absolutely global" problem with the required attention.

"It certainly does not concern Italy or, obviously, Sicily alone," confirmed the national attorney. "We look at the situation of the Far East, we look at the situation of countries of South America, we look at the situation of Eastern Europe, at the Balkan countries, countries all crossed by routes through which illicit traffic passes from various organized groups."