The Archbishop of Naples Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe called the Neapolitan Camorra mafia “another possible epidemic” in a homily during a livestreamed Mass in May.
“There are those who are good at making a fortune in times of epidemic. … Let’s move, intervene immediately, because the underworld is faster than our bureaucracy. The Camorra does not wait. It is up to us to get rid of all [criminal] organizations. We must overcome and affirm the right to hope,” Cardinal Sepe said May 2.
The Neapolitan mafia has been known to take advantage of an economic downturn by lending their money -- earned by illicit means, like drug trafficking -- to businesses who cannot pay the money back.
“When the money cannot be returned, the Camorra takes advantage of that. Because of the money the Camorra can acquire management of the business. From that moment on, the Camorra will use that company as a conduit to launder its own illicit money," Naples police officer Alfredo Fabbrocini told EuroNews July 10.
De Simone said that loan sharks often have “the face of a friend, a benefactor, who helps you when everyone else has abandoned you. That gives you money right away, when you need it.”
“As long as you have properties, the usurer lends you money. Loans that can hardly be repaid: not so much and not only for the obviously very high interest, but because when, as in the quarantine, there is no economic income, the further loan you need to eat on one side and to pay the installments of the debt on the other,” he explained.
“Children often pay for their families. I have no names to indicate, but from the stories of many economic operators, disgusted by what is happening,” he said.
For Bishop D’Alise, the root of the problem of usury is a failure to uphold human dignity. Because of this, the Italian bishop likened it to the issue of racism in the United States.
“In both cases a person is worthless,” he said. “I still have before me the image of the policeman holding George Floyd with his knee. It crushed him, not only physically.”
He said that the Church’s response needs to be “effective solidarity” that can recognize this dignity and support those most in need.
“What is required of the Church is a strong exercise of solidarity, each for what he can, but that is a sensitive and effective solidarity. Often we do not realize how much goodness, but also how much evil there is between us. And kids cannot pay the price,” he said.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.