Pope Francis has condemned Mafia group Ndrangheta during a homily on the southern Italian region of Calabria. The area is home base to the widely feared crime group, which wields economic and political power. The group has a reported annual turnover of £42 billion or $71 billion.
"Those who in their lives follow this path of evil, as mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated," The spiritual leader of more than a billion Catholics said, and then added "This evil must be fought against, it must be pushed aside. We must say no to it."
The Pope used the word excommunication, which in the Catholic doctrine is the cut off of any person or group from the church. Although the words are not official without a written order, this denotes a public relations problem for the crime group. Despite their criminal activity, members of Ndrangheta see themselves as religious, they participate in mass and sacraments, and in certain instances maintain strong relations with some local parishes. In a way, this allows them to project themselves, and to be credible among the poor and devout Catholic communities in Calabria.
Pope Francis made the trip to pay tribute to Nicola "Coco" Campolongo, a young boy who was killed last January along with his grandfather in an attack that was allegedly perpetrated by the crime group.
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