Pope Francis made what might have been his boldest move yet, when he 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,” the Pope said in an outdoor Mass held in Piana di Sibari, Calabria.
This is, without question, the first time that a Pope has ever spoken of excommunication for the Mafia.
The act of excommunication excludes Catholics from the church and can be imposed or incurred automatically for certain serious offenses in Catholicism. In spite of many notorious offenses of the mafia, no pope has ever dare to suggest that members could or should be excommunicated.
The Mafia are often well known for their cultural to attempt to portray themselves as upstanding religious members of the community, with the full support of the Catholic Church, so as to maintain local credibility.
In Calabria, however, the Pope called the mafia out by name, denouncing the ‘Ndrangheta as an example of “the adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”
CNN reports that “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.”
All of this while, Calabria suffers from 56% youth unemployment, which the Mafia exploits while promising jobs for disillusioned young people.
“They must be told, No!” the Pope exclaimed to over 100,000 who had gathered for the outdoor Mass.
This, however, is not the first time the Pope has called out the mafia. In Rome, back in March of this year, he said “hell … awaits you if you continue on this road.”
(Article by James Achisa)