Pope Francis told the Italian Mafia members that they are excommunicated from the Catholic Church in a Saturday sermon. The Pope used strong language to put down the “evil ways” that the Mafia members have taken on, saying “they are not with God,” according to CNN News on June 21.
This is the first time in history that a Pope has gone after the Mafia by excommunicating them from the church. Excommunication from the church means the mob members are no longer church members and excommunication can only be passed down by a high official of the Catholic Church. Some concerns were expressed by people who deal with the Mafia in the court system about the Pope becoming a target after the excommunication.
The Pope is as high as they come, so this is serious for the men who are members of the Mafia, who are often very involved in the Catholic Church. If you have ever watched the HBO series “Sopranos” you have a good idea on how religious the mafia families can be.
In order to maintain local credibility in the community, the Mafia members in Southern Italy are very involved in the church and the Pope cutting them off will hit them hard. In an outdoor mass in Piana di Sibari, Calabria, the Pope announced the excommunication.
The Pope said, "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." Fox News reports that the Pope took on the Mafia during his one day pilgrimage to southern region of Calabria. He announced the excommunication during an outdoor mass.
Mafia members are known for priding themselves as good Catholics and they also contribute heavily to the church funds. Even in the U.S. members of the mob are often big contributors to the local Catholic Church that their families attend.
Back in March the Pope met with families of victims of the Mafia and he spoke out against the Mafia at that point in time. This is when he said that “hell awaits you if you continue on this road,” a message he passed along to mob members.
One of the worries today with the Pope being so open about his detest for the Mafia’s behaviors and by excommunicating the mobsters, is retaliation. Some anti-mafia prosecutors are concerned that the Pope might now have made himself a target of the Mafia.
Pope Francis has proved himself as the Pope of the people as he fearlessly takes on the wrongs of the world. He stepped into his role as Pope and almost immediately he embarked on reforming the Vatican.