Vatican City, Jan 23, 2017 / 07:41 am
Frequently an outspoken critic against organized crime, Pope Francis again came out with harsh words for those involved in the mafia and other criminal activities, which he said are “stained with blood” and go directly against the faith.
“The phenomena of the mafia, which is an expression of a culture of death, is (something) to oppose and to fight,” the Pope said Jan. 23.
Mafia activity “is radically opposed to the faith and to the Gospel, which are important for life,” he said, adding that true followers of Christ “have thoughts of peace, fraternity, justice, welcome and forgiveness.”
Pope Francis spoke to members of the National Anti-Mafia and Anti-terrorism Bureau during an audience with the organization in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
He initially made headlines regarding the mafia in June 2014 during his visit to the southern Diocese of Cassano all'Jonio, during which he slammed mafia members for being “adorers of evil” and declaring that because they follow a path contrary to the Gospel, they are “excommunicated.”
While the Pope’s words didn’t necessarily imply an official canonical excommunication, they shocked many, especially given the fact that many “mafiosi” claim to be devout Christians and even go to Mass, while at the same time carrying out their crimes.
In his speech to the Anti-Mafia Bureau, Francis pointed to the three main criminal organizations that operate in Italy, mostly in the south: the Mafia, who operate mainly Sicily; the Camorra, who run criminal activities largely in Italy’s Campagna region, particularly in Naples; and the ‘Ndrangheta, who mostly work in Calabria.
In addition to these three main criminal circles in Italy, another more specific organization, the Sacra Corona Unita, operates largely in Puglia, also in the southern half of the country.