Pope Francis on Saturday had a message for mobsters – you’re out. The pope excommunicated all members of the Italian mafia in a speech delivered to 100,000 followers gathered outdoors in Piana di Sibari, Calabria, southern Italy.
Those who in their life have gone along the evil ways, as in the case of the mafia, they are not with God, they are excommunicated. – Pope Francis
This isn’t the first time the pope has issued a censure on Italian Mafiosos.
In March, Francis spoke during a church service in Rome that commemorated the deaths of nearly 800 individuals slayed by the mafia. The Pope issued a strong denunciation to members of the mob, warning mobsters they risk eternal damnation if they do not repent of their murderous ways.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, excommunication is the “principal and severest censure, is a medicinal, spiritual penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society. Being a penalty, it supposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offense.”
The Pope's remarks will resonate strongly in this part of southern Italy, where the Mafia are known to attempt to portray themselves as upstanding religious men in good rapport with the Catholic Church, in order to maintain local credibility.
Speaking Saturday of the mafia, called the Ndrangheta in Italy, the 77-year-old pontiff said: “Ndrangheta is the adoration of evil and contempt for the common good. The evil must be beaten, expelled… They must be told ‘No.’”
According to an AFP report, unemployment in 2013 among the under-25s in the region stands at 56.1 percent, which represents the highest in all of Italy. Because of that, idle young men that cannot find work are often easily enticed into the mob's network with the promise of money.
According to DrugPolicyCentral.com, “Ndrangheta is one of the wealthiest international crime organizations, with an annual turnover of 53 billion euros ($72 billion), much of it from the global cocaine trade.”
In his speech, Pope Francis spoke about the recent killing of a 3-year-old by the mafia. “Coco” Campolongo was shot in the head and found in his car seat in an abandoned part of the city. He was allegedly murdered in a mob hit for unpaid drug money.
“It must never again happen that a child suffers in this way,” the pope said as he met Coco's father. The child’s mother is serving jail time for her own drug charges. Coco’s grandfather was also executed in the hit.