Vatican City, Aug 20, 2020 / 10:30 am
Pope Francis has praised a new initiative aimed at countering the abuse of Marian devotions by mafia organizations, who use her figure to wield power and exert control.
“Freeing Mary from the mafia and from criminal powers” is an ad hoc department of the Pontifical International Marian Academy (PAMI). The academy’s president, Fr. Stefano Cecchin, OFM, told CNA Aug. 20 that the Blessed Virgin Mary does not teach submission to evil, but freedom from it.
Cecchin explained that terminology used in the history of the Church to explain Mary’s “submission” to the will of God had become distorted to imply not servanthood, but “slavery” characterized by “absolute obedience to superiors.”
“In the mafia framework, this is what the figure of Mary has become,” he said, “the figure of a human being who must be submissive, therefore a slave, accepting the will of God, the will of the bosses, the will of the mafia leader…”
It becomes “a way the population, the people are subjected to this domination,” he said.
He told CNA that the working group, which will officially start in October, includes around 40 Church and civil leaders, including Italian judges, for “study, research, and teaching” to “restore the purity of the image of Jesus and Mary which comes from the Gospels.”
It is a laity-driven initiative, he stressed, and while it will begin in Italy, he said that participants hope in future to address other manifestations of this Marian exploitation, such as by drug lords in South America.
Pope Francis, in his Aug. 15 letter to Cecchin, said he “learned with pleasure” of the project and wished “to express my appreciation for the important initiative.”