Pope Francis Declares Mafia Excommunicated During Mass in Calabria

Pope Francis Declares Mafia Excommunicated During Mass in Calabria June 21, 2014

“They are not in communion with God, they are excommunicated.”

–Pope Francis, speaking of the Calabrian mafia

Pope Francis had strong words for the mafia during his visit to the southern Italian region of Calabria on Saturday.  In his homily for the feast of Corpus Domini, he accused the mafioso of “adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.” “Those who in their lives have taken this evil road,” the Pope said,

“…this road of evil, such as the mobsters, they are not in communion with God, they are excommunicated.”

Vatican Radio tells the story:

The Pope’s visit to the region, marked by violence and corruption and renowned for mafia activity, was highly anticipated by the locals, who in recent months were rocked by the murder of Fr. Lazzaro Longobardi, as well as the death of a three-year-old boy, the innocent victim of a mafia homicide. In his homily, the Pope spoke about the evils that can occur when adoration of God is replaced by adoration of money. “Your land, which so beautiful, knows the signs of the consequences of this sin,” he told those assembled. “This evil must be fought, must be expelled.” He called on the local Church to expend itself even more “so that good can prevail”. “Our children ask this of us,” he added. He said faith can help in responding to these demands. He called  the faithful of the Church in Calabria to be brothers and to show each other practical solidarity, noting signs of hope in local families and in the Church. He also urged young people not to allow themselves to be robbed of hope. He told the faithful his trip was intended to express his support for the local Church, to confirm the people in faith and charity, and to encourage them in their journey with Jesus Christ. “Today,” he continued, “we ask the Lord to enlighten us and to convert us, so that we truly adore only him and we renounce evil in all its forms.”

Pope Francis has been an influencer for change, by his actions prompting bishops to reevaluate their own ministries–embracing a poorer church, for example. So I am curious:  Will this direct statement, issued during the Mass, prompt American bishops to speak openly about those in our own country who, by their political actions, have demonstrated that they “are not in communion with God”?

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  • Sygurd Jonfski

    I only wish he did the same to the pseudo-Catholic mafia in Washington (Pelosi, Biden et al.) and elsewhere…

  • As an Italian-American I think this is great. But I hope he realizes that Italians aren’t the only gangsters in the world. And why stop at gangsters. I would put abortionists in the same company as the mafia.

    • vito

      Then perhaps everyone who commits a mortal sin? I don’t think the list needs to be expanded to anyone who has had or performed an abortion or who supports abortion rights. These people at least operate within the law and the society in general supports their rights to do it.

      What separates mobsters of the kind in Sicily,Naples, Calabria from “simple” sinners is precisely stated by the Pope: not only they commit greatest evil and cause worst misery to people, the ADORE it, they celebrate it. They do it because they enjoy and choose it as their way of life. Murder and other crime has never been collateral damage for them on their way to make some money. It has always been the essence. The rest of society are ‘suckers’ for them and they have absolutely no regard for them.

      • I said abortionists, not people who have abortions or support the leaglity of abortion.
        I had not read the Holy Father’s logic but if that’s what he said, I find that suspect. How can he KNOW that they “adore” it? It’s quite conceivable that some if not most have guilt over some of the crimes. And how about people who’s fathers and family brought them into the mafia life? Like all sin, the way of life is more defining than a conscious choice.
        No, the criteria for excommunication should be the facts of the sin, not mind reading the motives. If the Pope is basing this on mind reading motives, then it’s a case of his sloppy thinking.

        • vito

          Oh, but that’s common knowledge that they adore it. They rejoice in evil and do not hide it – that’s what makes them so despicable. Piles of research have been done on the subject. Italian journalists and writers have explored these subjects extensively. Read Savianno (on Comorra), you can also find books and documentaries, including on youtube, where mobsters and ex-mobsters themselves speak. Former FBI undercover agent Joseph Dominick Pistone, who infiltrated a mob “family” for a number years in New York, has done an excellent job in his books to tell about the mentality of US Italian mobsters (a gentler version of the real Italian mob). He in particular highlighted the complete absence of any kind of guilt or remorse in mobsters and total disregard of other people’s interests or emotions. That’s not to say there are absolutely no exceptions, but the Pope’s generalization is certainly correct here. To those that feel guilty and repent his excommunication does not apply anyway.

          Although being a son of a mobster can in some cases be an initial temptation to also become a mobster yourself, but it has been widely reported that not all children want this kind of life, few parents encourage or force them that way, and the opportunities that young people have in modern societies, like the US and Italy, make this the choice of such an “occupation” totally unnecessary, It is usually voluntary and not predetermined. They have many choices, they simply make this one.

          They are not simply an organisation that makes money through crime; ndraghetta and comorra in particular are known for totally unnecessary, disproportional, ceremonious and bizarre violence and cruelty. Yes, they do adore and celebrate it. The Pope has precisely defined their conduct as “adoration of evil and contempt for the common good”

          • Even if it’s true, I find it troubling to pass a judgement by thinking what motivates a group of people. While one can generalize, Christ judges on an individual basis, not group generalization. And so should we.

          • vito

            well definitely, I agree that God judges individually. As I just added to my above comment: “To those that feel guilty and repent his excommunication does not apply anyway”. So they need not be bothered by it

          • “To those that feel guilty and repent his excommunication does not apply anyway”
            How is a local priest who has to enforce the excommunication supposed to know who feels guilty and who doesn’t? This is beginning to sound absurd.

          • vito

            In the extreme cases as this one I approve the condemnation of the whole group – it sends a clear message, especially young people: you cannot be both a mobster, a member of a vicious criminal organisation, but otherwise pretend to be a “good man”. You cannot even call yourself a Catholic; don’t even show up unless you stop this and repent ( I would also add: repay/make up for what you have done, where possible; return any proceeds of crime or where impossible – at least donate all of it to charity; repay the society by fully cooperating with law enforcement – repenting must be reflected in actions).

            I wish a similiar condemnation would have been issued to German Nazis at the relevant time.

          • AnneG

            Pope Pius XII did not issue a blanket excommunication of Nazis in an effort to protect priests and religious. As it was almost 6000 priests were murdered by them.

  • radiofreerome

    I wish the Pope would excommunicate the Vatican spokesmen for saying that the Pope doesn’t really mean what he says.

    • vito

      at least this time I hope they won’t come out tomorrow with a list of reservations about “what he really meant…”

      This statement is of course several hundred years late, but better later then never.

      And I wonder how this will be implemented by priests down in Calabria and Sicily etc, where centuries-old alliances have existed with those people