Trust No One, Promise Nothing
Facing me, the Don spoke with authority and confidence as he addressed everyone in the room, officially beginning the ceremony.
“Hundreds of years ago, a corrupt government denied our Sicilian ancestors justice for crimes committed against them. Our people had to protect themselves in order to take their own revenge. They swore an oath of silence called Omertà to guard the identities of those who punished criminals on behalf of the victims and their families.”
The Vow of Omertà
“Only a fool or coward seeks help from the authorities. You must solve your own problems. It is shameful to betray even your worst enemies to the police. If wounded, take your own revenge, but if you die, you forgive your assailant. Raimondo, breaking your oath of silence is punishable by death.”
“You must be a good, honorable, and respectful person at all hours, exhibit class, be independent, show courage and heart. Do not whine or complain. Show bravery when faced with adversity.”
“You must always practice our code of conduct. Never look at friends’ wives, girlfriends, or daughters. Don’t steal from members or go to public clubs. Never take drugs of any kind. Or socialize with cops. Always respect women and your elders. Always tell the truth. And be available at a moment’s notice. Value and keep every appointment.”
“Always be sure another member introduces you to other family acquaintances before you approach them. Be loyal and willing to protect our family and your fellow members at all costs. Put us above all, including God and your own people. Drop everything to serve the Don and our family.
Only death cancels this membership.”
“Yes, I give you my word that I will uphold my oath, live an honorable life, and I understand the price for breaking my pledge is death.”
Don Catanetti picked up the knife and saint’s picture, took my hand, pierced my thumb, and squeezed my blood onto the picture. After he handed it to me, he set its corner on fire.
Carefully letting it burn down, I rubbed the ashes together and recited the words I’d memorized, “May I burn in hell for all eternity if I betray the organization or my friends.”
“Welcome to the Catanetti family.”