Sicilian Mafia. Most people steer clear of them, given the option, especially if they live in areas where the Sicilian Mafia operates. In many places, they are de facto rulers, widely believed to have politicians and authorities in their pockets. Ask most people in areas controlled by the Sicialian Mafia and people will tell you leave them alone. Apparently, no one gave Pope Francis the memo.
According to a CNN report, Italian authorities are concerned that the pope’s safety in light of his repeated confrontation of the Sicilian Mafia. After all, people who make a habit of crossing the Sicilian crime organization have a tendency to disappear. Permanently. In American gangster movie parlance, they end up “sleeping with the fishes.”
The report quotes Italian prosecutor Nicola Gratteri:
“The strong will of Pope Francis, aiming to disrupt the gangrene power centers, puts him at risk. He disturbs the Mafia very much.”
Pope Francis recently took one of the strongest steps available to him according to the Catholic faith and excommunicated any and all Sicilian Mafia members. Pope Francis, speaking in Calabria, Italy, accused the Sicilian mafia of adoring evil and having contempt for the good of others. The Pope’s remarks included:
“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.”
Excommunication is a serious thing in the Roman Catholic Church and is sure to get the attention of the excommunicated Mafia members, most of whom identify as Catholics. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about the ecclesiastical punishment:
“Certain particularly grave sins incur excommunication, the most severe ecclesiastical penalty, which impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them.”
The Sicilian Mafia can take comfort in one fiat that the Catechism allows for, especially given the dangerous nature of their illicit profession:
“In danger of death any priest, even if deprived of faculties for hearing confessions, can absolve from every sin and excommunication.”
Pope Francis is not the first pontiff to speak out agains the activities of the Sicilian Mafia. Pope John Paul II also made strong comments about them in 1993. However, Pope Francis is the first to actually take the step of excommunicating the Sicilian Mafia en masse.
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