Culture Ethics

Pope Francis to mafia: Repent and all will be forgiven

Pope Francis arrives to lead a special audience with faithful from Cassano alpo Jonio diocese at the Vatican on February 21, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Osservatore Romano *Editors: This photo is not available for republication.
Pope Francis arrives to lead a special audience with faithful from Cassano alpo Jonio diocese at the Vatican on February 21, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Osservatore Romano *Editors: This photo is not available for republication.

Pope Francis arrives to lead a special audience with faithful from Cassano alpo Jonio diocese at the Vatican on February 21, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Osservatore Romano
*Editors: This photo is not available for republication.

(Reuters) Pope Francis urged members of Italian organized crime groups on Saturday to repent, saying the Catholic Church would welcome them if they promised to stop serving the cause of evil.

He spoke during an audience at the Vatican for pilgrims and anti-crime activists from the southern region of Calabria, home to the ‘Ndrangheta, mainland Italy’s equivalent of the Sicilian Mafia.

“Open your hearts to the Lord. The Lord is waiting for you and the Church will welcome you if your willingness to serve good is as clear and public as your choice to serve evil was,” he said.

When he visited Calabria last June, he accused organized crime groups of practising “the adoration of evil” and said members had excommunicated themselves from the Church by their actions.

The ‘Ndrangheta, which makes most of its money from drug trafficking, has spread from Calabria to northern Europe and North America. A 2013 study by Demoskopia, an economic and social research institute, estimated the ‘Ndrangheta’s annual turnover at some 53 billion euros in 30 countries, equivalent to about 3.5 percent of Italy’s total official economic output.

It has been much harder for investigators to combat than the Sicilian Mafia because its structure is more lateral than hierarchical and its tightly-knit families are harder to penetrate.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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  • I like Francis’ directness on this matter, and the liberal media certainly won’t complain about it, given that it’s the Mafia (who would?).

    But how does his willingness to say flat-out, in-your-face judgments like **your choice to serve evil**, square with that famous “Who am I to judge” stuff that he was previously scoring points with?

  • How dare an ordinary mammal decide forgiveness of other mammal’s crimes can be doled out if only they report to the head of this particular club of mammals?

    If a person commits an unlawful or immoral act it is nobody else’s responsibility but the victim to ‘forgive’.

    The pathetic, immoral vicarious redemption must be abandoned for the depravity it is.

  • Another bold truth spoken by Pope Francis! The mafia is an evil institution, a perpetrator of intrinsic evil that is never acceptable……so, he is not judging, merely stating fact.
    He, as any other Priest, has the power to absolve sinners if the penintent is truly sorry and promises to avoid future sin. This power was handed on to Jesus’ Apostles and has been further handed down to each generation through Holy Orders.

  • “Repent and all will be forgiven.”

    Christianity’s biggest flaw in a nutshell. Damage isn’t undone just because Jesus supposedly grants you his magical forgiveness.

  • God is organised crime’s most lucrative confidence scam, and the Pope is merely trying to deflect by calling other forms of organised crime groups “evil”. Never mind that the abuse of children is a crime and that scamming people out of their hard earned assets with threats of eternal torture should be a crime, but isn’t because of the political power of organised religion. The original sin was inventing God, so let the priests promise to stop sinning.

  • God is able to forgive sins of truly repentant persons today who turn their lives around and do not practice those sins any more on the basis of the ransom sacrifice of God’s son, Christ Jesus, through prayer to God, in the name of Jesus, our mediator.

    A priest or any other man is no longer necessary to ask God for forgiveness since Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic law; and earthly priests and animal sacrifices are no longer required.

  • Max:If there is no higher power to appeal to, where do you get your concepts of “immoral” or “unlawful?”
    As Dostoyevsky wrote, “If there is no God, anything is permissible.”

  • Fran:Then why did Yeshua tell the apostles, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
    (John 20:23)?

  • Dostoyevsky had it wrong. Where everything is forgiven, anything is permissible. The concepts of “immoral” and “unlawful” are social necessities and ethical concerns rooted in human conscience which is natural, requiring no gods. Prisons are full of theists and few atheists.

  • Sister,

    1. If Morality came from religion we would expect religious people to be the most moral – This has never happened.

    2. If morality came from religion we would expect religion ITSELF to be moral – This has never happened.

    If you open a book looking for an excuse to do good deeds, you have already done the good deed without needing the book !

    Morality is innate in most people and no god is needed.

  • Geraldine,

    Because the apostles were given that power, as Jesus told them, along with performing miracles. The apostles Peter and John cured a man lame from birth, and Paul restored a dead man to life (Acts 3:2-8; 20:9-11).

    Jesus’ early followers also spoke in tongues and discerned inspired sayings (Acts 2:5-12; 1 Corinthians 12:28-31).

    Those miracles were needed only during the infancy of the Christian congregations as brought out by Paul (1 Corinthians 13:8-11) and came to an end after the death of the last apostle, John.

    It should also be noted that the miracles performed by Jesus, and the apostles as well, are a preview of the miracles that God’s kingdom or heavenly government will soon perform worldwide for mankind on earth during its millennial rule, with Yeshua as its King (Daniel 2:44; Isaiah 11:1-9).

    Its grand blessings will be provided to all meek ones on earth (Revelation 21:1-4) and true peace and security will finally be established for all time (Psalm

  • Dear Friends,
    Arguments and counter-arguments tend to lose their punch value as words have meaning only in contexts and shooting in the dark might not help!
    What the Pope said about ‘Repent’ is the wider context in which all other words should be understood. ‘Repent ‘ in the Bible means to return to oneself withdrawing our normal gaze to the outer world and start anew to understand everything, including the outer world. No atheist or agnostic need label this requirement as religious, because for every knowledge self-knowledge is the ‘sine qua non’. Language analysis supports this view, which means at the pain of losing sense, one cannot ignore self-knowledge as the basis of all genuine knowledge. Self-knowledge will reveal where one stands and what course of action should be followed to be a genuine human being.
    John P. S.

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