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Pope calls on the mafia to change or 'end up in hell, at annual ceremony for the mafiosi victims

Saturday, March 22nd 2014 - 07:37 UTC
Full article 11 comments
It is the first time a pope has attended the annual event on spring day It is the first time a pope has attended the annual event on spring day

Pope Francis, in an annual ceremony held to remember the hundreds of innocent people murdered by the Italian mafia, made a solemn plea for mobsters to change or else “end up in hell”. The mafia continues to plague much of southern Italy: just on Monday, a four-year-old boy was shot dead, along with his mother and her boyfriend, near the southern city of Taranto in a suspected mob hit.

 At the end of an emotional ceremony this Friday in Rome in which the relatives of those murdered read the names of about 900 innocent mafia victims, the pope said the mafia “has no pity even for a child”.

“You have power and money now from much dirty business and many mafia crimes - it is blood money and blood power, and you can't take it with you to the afterlife,” Francis said in a Rome parish church packed with almost 900 relatives, many of whom held pictures of their slain loved ones.

“Men and women of the mafia, please change your lives. Convert. Stop doing evil ... There's still time to stay out of hell. That's what's waiting for you if you stay on this path.”

Francis's words recalled those of Pope John Paul, who in 1993 angrily called on mafiosi to “repent, because one day you will face the judgment of God”.

The pope's stand is important because, according to investigators, mob bosses often seek to establish close ties to local priests as a way to show that their authority is recognized even by the Church.

It is the first time a pope has attended the annual event - now in its 19th year - which is always held on the first day of spring “as a sign of hope and rebirth,” said Turin priest don Luigi Ciotti, who founded the anti-mafia group Libera, which organizes the ceremony.

Organized crime controls almost all economic and criminal activity in Calabria, Sicily and parts of Campania and Apulia, and it has greatly extended its influence in Rome and Milan in the past two decades.

Italy's main crime groups - Sicily's Cosa Nostra, Calabria's 'Ndrangheta, and the Camorra from around the southern city of Naples - have a joint annual turnover of 116 billion Euros (159.89 billion dollars), according to a United Nations estimate.

The mob continues to use violence and threats to keep its grip on the territory. Threats against local government officials have risen 66% since 2010, when the figures were first collected, according to a report published on Friday.

The most popular means of intimidation used by the mafia is setting fire to officials' cars, while threatening letters - also by Facebook or email - is the second most common method.

Forty one local administrators have been assassinated by the mafia over the past century, said Avviso Pubblico, the anti-mafia group that collected the data, and 243 city governments have been dissolved for organized crime infiltration since 1991.

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • LEPRecon

    Sure all those good 'Catholic' Mafia types know all they have to do is say a few Our Fathers, bung the Church some dosh, and their place in heaven will be assured.

    That's how the Catholic Church has worked since it's inception, why should anyone believe that it is going to change now?

    His Holiness would do better excommunicating known Mafia types until they change their ways - it still probably wouldn't work - but it would at least be a start.

    Mar 22nd, 2014 - 10:30 am 0
  • Klingon

    The pope had a 2 hour meeting with the old hag, one of the most corrupt politicians out there and still doesn't have the balls to tell it how it is.
    As with all religions, it is a completely useless exercise.
    Does he really think the mob are going to listen to him?

    Mar 22nd, 2014 - 11:47 am 0
  • kingsterj

    He is old and completely out of date.

    Mar 22nd, 2014 - 12:27 pm 0
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