Pope Francis issued a stern warning to the Italian mafia to change its ways.
The pope was speaking yesterday at a prayer vigil near Rome for about 1,000 relatives of victims of organized crime violence. Pope Francis urged the mafia mobsters to change their lives and “stop doing evil.”
Addressing the mafia directly at one point, Pope Francis said “This life that you live now won’t give you pleasure. It won’t give you joy or happiness. 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.”
Added the pope: “You have a father and a mother – think of them and convert.”
A presumed mafia hit took the lives of a toddler and two adults last week in Italy, a tragedy that the pontiff called attention to in his remarks.
Pope Francis apparently is the first papal leader to take part in the vigil. “The meeting in a church near Vatican City was the first time a pontiff had taken part in events tied to a day of commemoration held annually by the anti-mafia organization, Libera. During a prayer vigil, the names of 842 victims were read aloud.”
The pope’s participation in the event could influence how other priests view the mafia in Italy: “After his speech, Francis donned a ceremonial garment once worn by Italian priest Father Giuseppe Diana, who was murdered by the Camorra mafia in Naples in 1994. Some priests in southern Italy are still accused of turning a blind eye to the crimes of devotedly Roman Catholic mobsters who pay fortunes for the upkeep of churches and place themselves at the head of religious parades in small towns.”
Separately, on Thursday, Pope Francis spoke in favor of the work ethic as an essential element of human dignity.
Do you think the pope’s warning to mobsters will have a positive effect on decreasing organized crime activity in Italy?
[top image credit: presidencia.gov.ar]