BY Ian Dunn | March 28 2014 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

1-POPE-ON-THE-MAFIA

There is still time not to end up in hell, says Pontiff

Pope Francis urges mafia in Italy to repent. ‘Weep a little and convert,’ Holy Father said at prayer vigil. Scottish reaction

Pope Francis has demanded that the ‘men and women of the mafia’ denounce their ‘evil, blood-stained’ lives of crime.

Surrounded by the families of innocent people killed by the mafia, the Holy Father made an emotional appeal to Italian gangsters to give up their lives of crime and avoid eternal damnation.

“Men and women of the Mafia, please change your lives, convert, stop doing evil,” the Pope said at a prayer vigil last Friday in a church near the Vatican. “I ask on my knees and for your own good… The power, the money you have now from so many dirty deals, from so many Mafia crimes, blood-stained money, blood-stained power—you will not be able to take that with you to the other life.

“There is still time not to end up in hell, which awaits you if you continue on this road. You had a papa and a mamma. Think of

The prayer vigil was the first time a Pontiff had taken part in events tied to a day of commemoration held annually by the anti-mafia organisation, Libera. During the event, the names of 842 victims were read aloud. In his address, the Pope made special reference to an attack on Monday in the southern Italian province around the city of Taranto, in which three people— two adults and a toddler—were shot dead in an apparent mafia hit.

Every year since 1996, the Italian anti-Mafia group Libera has observed March 21, the first full day of spring, in memory of innocent victims of organised crime. According to the group, the approximately 700 people gathered with Pope Francis in a Rome church this year represented the families of an estimated 15,000 such victims across Italy.

Ronnie Convery, director of communications at Glasgow Archdiocese and secretary of the Italian Scotland charity, said it was difficult for non Italians to understand the scale of the problem.

“Organised criminality is a massive blight on the lives of ordinary people in southern Italy and Sicily, the reality is not glamorous it is an ugly culture of fear, exploitation, threat and violence,” he said. “The Church has had a major role in giving people the confidence to speak out against that culture.”

He went on to note that this latest intervention by Pope Francis was ‘very widely reported and massively acclaimed.’

“Largely due to the simplicity and chilling words of his message: ‘If you go on like this you will got o hell,’” he said.

At the vigil, the Pope listened as members of the congregation stepped up to the lectern and recited, in some cases with breaking voices, the names of people killed by the Mafia.

Fr Luigi Ciotti, founder of Libera denounced the Mafia as the ‘assassin of hope’ and recalled a range of its victims, including Domenico Gabriele, an 11-year-old fatally shot while playing soccer in 2009, and Nicola Campolongo, a 3-year-old murdered in January, reportedly to avenge an unpaid drug debt.

 

—ian@sconews.co.uk

 

—This story ran in full in the March 28 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.

 

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