Pope warns mobsters they risk eternal damnation if they do not repent of their murderous ways. Pope Francis issued that strong denunciation to members of the Italian mob Friday during a church service in Rome that commemorated the deaths of nearly 800 individuals slayed by mafioso.
Says The Associated Press on March 21, via Yahoo! News: “After voicing his solidarity with the family members, Francis said he couldn't leave the service without speaking to those not present: the ‘protagonists’ of mafia violence.”
To that end, the Pope Francis was unsparing in his words:
“This life that you live now won't give you pleasure. It won't give you joy or happiness,” the Holy Father said. “Blood-stained money, blood-stained power, you can't bring it with you to your next life. Repent. There's still time to not end up in hell, which is what awaits you if you continue on this path.”
According to the AP report, the Pope’s words on the “brutality of Italy's mobsters was driven home this week by the death of Domenico Petruzzelli, a 2-year-old killed along with his mother and her companion in a mob hit in southern Taranto in which assailants opened fire on their car.”
At the vigil, 842 names of those killed by the mafia were read aloud. Francis spoke to the families of those victimized by the criminal organization, and then called on members of the mafia to repent and convert.
"You had a father, a mother. Think of them," he said. "Weep a little. And convert yourselves."
Francis is not the only Pope to get tough with the mafia. The first time a sitting Pope spoke out against violence caused by the mafia was Pope John Paul II in 1993.
Interestingly, Pope Francis’ view on hell would seem to be yet another interpretation of the Roman Catholic definition of hell as a physical place of torment. When his predecessor John Paul II spoke about hell in 1999, he called it “the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy,” and said hell is “neither abstraction nor a physical place.”
A July 29 1999 article from Reuters News Service said: “Forget the flames and the devils with pitchforks. A week after telling the Roman Catholic faithful that heaven was not up in the clouds, Pope John Paul II said yesterday that hell was not a physical place either.”