BY CHRISTINA WHITE
A FUGITIVE Mafia boss has turned himself in to the police after hearing the Pope appeal for a return to Christian values and a shortening of prison
Benedetto Marciante, sentenced "in absentia" to 30 years for murder and seven years for Mafia connections, gave himself up at Rebibbia prison in Rome after listening to a speech given by the Pope to the Italian parliament.
It was the first time in the Church's history that a Pontiff has addressed the parliament and John Paul II's historic words were broadcast live to the nation.
The Holy Father appealed to Italians to commit themselves to family values and urged couples to have children to halt "the crisis" of Italy's plummeting birth rate.
The Pope also called for clemency for prisoners and suggested that lawmakers shorten prisoners' sentences in a bid to reduce chronic overcrowding in Italian jails.
Christianity is the religion of "mutual respect, forgiveness and reconciliation", he said.
Marciante's lawyer, Roberto Tricoli, described his client's change of heart as "miraculous", but would not be drawn on the subject of prison sentencing.
"My client is a simple man and the comments on family values and the importance of being a Christian really affected him in a kind of miraculous way.
"He just suddenly felt the need to do what was expected of him by the law," he said.
Pope's speech: Page 4