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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Thursday put a popular Sicilian priest who was killed by the Mafia in 1993 on the fast track toward sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Vatican said the pope had signed a decree recognizing that Father Pino Puglisi had been killed "in hatred of the faith", meaning that he can be beatified - the last step before sainthood - without a miracle being attributed to his intercession with God.
There would, however, have to be a miracle found to be due to his intercession for him to be declared a saint.
Puglisi, who had delivered many sermons against the Mafia, the organized crime gangs of the region, was shot dead outside his home in Palermo at a time when there were many mafia killings in the Sicilian capital.
Six mafiosi were sentenced to life in prison for the murder.
Reporting By Philip Pullella, editing by Tim Pearce