Pope to Mafia Bosses: 'Stop Doing Evil'

Image: Pope to Mafia Bosses: 'Stop Doing Evil' Father Luigi Ciotti presents Pope Francis with a stole that belonged to Don Diana, who was killed by the mafia, during an audience with family members of victims of the mafia at San Gregorio VII church in Rome on March 21.

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 09:46 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Pope Francis has signaled a war on organized crime in Italy after attending a prayer vigil with the families of Mafia victims.

At the vigil in Rome last month, the pontiff said he was willing to go down on bended knee to plead with Mafia bosses to "stop doing evil," the Catholic News Service reported.

"The Pope brings a moral renewal that touches everyone. Every day I see the results," said the Rev. Luigi Ciotti, the founder of the Italian anti-Mafia group Libera, which organized the vigil, according to the news service.

Ciotti admitted that in the past the Roman Catholic Church has been "tepid and prudent" on how to deal with organized crime. But he said that the Pope's prayers with victims' families has now highlighted the church's new role on fighting the Mafia.

"His church is no longer closed and inward looking — it's everyone's home. Its doors are always open," Ciotti told the Turin daily La Stampa, according to the news service report.

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The Pope's prayer vigil came just one month after shots were fired into the automobile of the Rev. Luigi Merola, whose foundation, Voice of the Children, tries to get children in Naples' slums to stay in school and away from criminal elements.

"I've lived with these threats for years," Merola told the Catholic daily Avvenire. "I've gotten used to them."

The Sicilian Mafia and the Calabrian crime organization the 'Ndrangheta have extended their influence to northern Italy, the Catholic News Service reported. But Monsignor Carlo Galli has formed a project called "I see, I hear, Dare I Speak?" to encourage people to speak out against criminals in the region.

"Mafia, 'Ndrangheta, usury — these are words that have made headlines all over Lombardy," Galli told the Milan daily Il Giornale, according to the news service report. "It's omerta — people know and don't say. Instead they must find the courage to speak out."

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