Published On: Wed, Jun 25th, 2014

Pope Francis excommunicates mafia members, visits with Coco Campolongo family

Pope Francis announced that Italian Mafia members are now excommunicated from the Catholic Church. During his visit to south Italy the Pope used harsh and bold language denouncing violence and ‘evil’ of the mafia.
Pope Francis I  March 2013 photo by Casa Rosada via wikipedia

Pope Francis I March 2013 photo by Casa Rosada via wikipedia

“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,” Francis said. He denounced the local mafia, called ‘Ndrangheta, as an example of “the adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

During this visit to Calabria in southern Italy, the Pope is trying to counter the mafia’s image religious Catholic men.
“They must be told, No!” the Pope said to a crowd of more than 100,000 in Piana di Sibari, Calabria, for Mass. The unemployment in Calabria exceed 50% and the Ndrangheta exploit youth with promises of jobs, wealth and luxury.
CNN chronicles the Pope’s visit to the family of the 3-year-old boy, Nicola Campolongo, who was the victim of an alleged Mafia hit in January. Nicknamed Coco, the boy was with his grandfather when they were both shot and their bodies subsequently burned in a car.
Pope Francis called this death “unprecedented.”

“In all my years investigating organized crime murders, none has been as horrific as this one,” lead prosecutor Franco Giacomantonio told CNN at the time of the attack. “It is unimaginable that a child can be made to pay for the crimes of his parents.”

Coco’s mother, Antonia Iannicelli, didn’t attend her son’s funeral, serving time in prison on drug charges, due to fears that the crime organization would target the woman if she attended the service.

In March, Pope Francis called Mafia bosses to repent and for major changes in Italy, preaching that “hell … awaits you if you continue on this road.”

Some anti-mafia prosecutors have worried that mobsters may target Pope Francis, who is reforming the Vatican, including its scandal-scarred bank, the Institute for Religious Works.

“The strong will of Pope Francis, aiming to disrupt the gangrene power centers, puts him at risk. He disturbs the Mafia very much,” Nicola Gratteri, an anti-mob prosecutor in Calabria, told CNN in November.

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