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Pope John Paul IIstrongly condemned the Mafia today, urging Sicilians to "open a new page in their history." The pope has taken an increasingly hard line towards organized crime since he stunned Italians two years ago by denouncing the Mafia while on a visit to Sicily. Although past pontiffs have made general denunciations of violence, the current pope has been the first to single out the Mob, saysTIME's Richard Ostling. "John Paul is not one to be intimidated. He beat the Communist leaders in Poland. He's denounced the IRA in Ireland, rebuked leaders for human rights violations in places like Brazil, and chastised the Supreme Court on abortion while just a few blocks down the Mall." The Vatican could face a stiff backlash. After the 1993 speech in Sicily, two church bombs exploded in Rome and a priest was gunned down in his church.