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Leave The Church, Take The Canoli

Pope Francis Popemobile

Throughout recent history, the Catholic Church and the Mafia have been the two dominant non-government forces in Italian politics and culture. Yesterday, Pope Francis went further than any previous Pope in condemning a criminal organization that many Italians are fearful of even to this day:

(CNN) – Using his strongest language to date, Pope Francis told Italian Mafia members on Saturday that they are excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

“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,” Francis said in an outdoor Mass in Piana di Sibari, Calabria.

It is the first time a Pope has spoken of excommunication for the Mafia. Excommunication, which excludes Catholics from the church, can be imposed by church authorities or incurred automatically for certain grave offenses.

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.

During a one-day visit to Calabria, the Pope denounced the local mafia, called ‘Ndrangheta, as an example of “the adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

According to reports, ‘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.

(…)

It is not the first time the Pope has spoken out against the Mafia. In March in Rome at a meeting with families of victims, the Pope called directly on Mafia bosses to repent, saying “hell … awaits you if you continue on this road.”

Some anti-mafia prosecutors have worried that the Mafia may target Pope Francis, who is also reforming the Vatican, including its scandal-scarred bank, the Institute for Religious Works.

“The strong will of Pope Francis, aiming to disrupt the gangrene power centers, puts him at risk. He disturbs the Mafia very much,” Nicola Gratteri, a prosecutor in Calabria, told CNN in November.

As we’ve already learned, this Pontiff, whatever one may think of him and regardless of what his legacy may end up being, doesn’t really seem to be bothered by the fact that he disturbs people in positions of power who aren’t accustomed to being disturbed.

Regardless of what one thinks about religion or the Catholic Church, there’s something admirable about that I think.

Post Title inspired by a comment on Facebook

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tillman says:

    So, he takes off the bulletproof glass cube and excommunicates the Mafia — is he daring them to shoot him?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  2. The Pope want the Mafia out of the church, but also wants to make sure we continue to legally protect their largest source of revenue:

    Pope Francis says he opposes making recreational drugs legal

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. PJ says:

    @Tillman:

    So, he takes off the bulletproof glass cube and excommunicates the Mafia — is he daring them to shoot him?

    I wonder what would happen if the mafia would assassinate a pope. I don’t think they are stupid enough to do that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @PJ: At least not with their fingerprints on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Barry says:

    Doug: “As we’ve already learned, this Pontiff, whatever one may think of him and regardless of what his legacy may end up being, doesn’t really seem to be bothered by the fact that he disturbs people in positions of power who aren’t accustomed to being disturbed.

    Regardless of what one thinks about religion or the Catholic Church, there’s something admirable about that I think.”

    I strongly agree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0