Salvatore Pappalardo

This article is about the Roman Catholic Cardinal and Archbishop of Palermo. For the composer, see Salvatore Pappalardo (composer).

Salvatore Pappalardo STD JUD (23 September 1918 – 10 December 2006) was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who was Archbishop of Palermo for over 25 years, from 1970 to 1996. He was the first senior clergyman from Sicily to speak out against the Mafia, breaking its code of omertà (vow of silence).

He should not be confused with the still-living current Archbishop of Siracusa, Italy of the same first and last name, who is not a Cardinal but is, like this one, a metropolitan archbishop of an ecclesiastical province.


Pappalardo was born in Villafranca Sicula in Sicily. He was ordained as a priest in Rome on 12 April 1941, and was a Counsellor of the Vatican Secretariat of State from 1947 to 1965, receiving in 1951 the title of Privy Chamberlain to Pope John XXIII, and in 1961 that of Domestic Prelate. He was appointed titular Archbishop of Miletus on 7 December 1965, and served as Apostolic Pro-Nuncio in Indonesia from 1965 to 1969. He was President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome from 1969 to 1970. He succeeded Cardinal Francesco Carpino as Archbishop of Palermo on 17 October 1970. He was proclaimed Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria Odigitria dei Siciliani by Pope Paul VI on 5 March 1973.

Styles of
Salvatore Pappalardo
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Palermo

He was considered papabile in the conclave in October 1978, after the death of Pope John Paul I: a cover story of Time magazine said that he could become the first Sicilian pope in 12 centuries.

Pappalardo spoke out against the Mafia from the 1980s. At the funeral of Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa in 1982, who had been murdered along with his wife in Palermo, he criticised the Italian government for failing to guarantee security in Sicily, implicitly criticising the Mafia but avoiding mentioning the organisation by name. He became more explicit in the early 1990s, after other anti-Mafia lawyers, policemen and priests had been murdered. At the funeral of Giovanni Falcone in 1992, who was also murdered along with his wife near Palermo, he described the murderers as part of a "synagogue of Satan", leading to criticism from Italian Jews. He later apologised, having meant the word synagogue in its "old sense, as a gathering place". In 1993, at the funeral of murdered priest Pino Puglisi, he called for the people of Sicily to rise up against the Mafia. He was awarded the title of Knight of the Grand Cross of the Italian Republic by Italian President Sandro Pertini.

He retired on 4 April 1996, succeeded by Salvatore De Giorgi. He died in Palermo and was buried in the chapel of Santa Cristina in the Cathedral of Palermo on 12 December 2006.


Educational offices
Preceded by
Gino Paro
President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy
7 May 1969 – 17 October 1970
Succeeded by
Felice Pirozzi
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Francesco Carpino
Archbishop of Palermo
17 October 1970 – 4 April 1996
Succeeded by
Salvatore De Giorgi
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