June 21st, 2014
02:04 PM ET

Pope excommunicates Italian mobsters

By Delia Gallagher, CNN

(CNN) - Using his strongest language to date, Pope Francis told Italian Mafia members Saturday that they are excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

“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.

It is the first time a Pope has spoken of excommunication for the Mafia.

Excommunication, which excludes Catholics from the church, can be imposed by church authorities or incurred automatically for certain grave offenses.

The Pope’s remarks will resonate strongly in this part of southern Italy, where the Mafia attempt to portray themselves as upstanding religious men in good rapport with the Catholic Church, in order to maintain local credibility.

During a one-day visit to Calabria, in southern Italy, the Pope denounced the local mafia, called ‘Ndrangheta, as an example of “the adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

According to reports, ‘Ndrangheta is one of the wealthiest international crime organizations, with an annual turnover of 53 billion euros, much of it from the global cocaine trade.

Calabria also suffers from 56% youth unemployment, which the Mafia exploits with promises of jobs for disillusioned young people.

“They must be told, No!” the Pope said to a crowd of over 100,000 gathered in Piana di Sibari, Calabria, for an outdoor Mass.

Prosecutor: Pope faces threat from the mafia

Earlier during his visit, Pope Francis met with relatives of a 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.

It is not the first time the Pope has spoken out against the Mafia. In March in Rome at a meeting with families of victims, the Pope called directly on Mafia bosses to repent, saying "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.

(CNN's Daniel Burke contributed to this report.) 

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (743 Responses)
  1. sunnylovetts2


    "Heavenly Father, have mercy on me, a sinner. I believe in you and that your word is true. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that he died on the cross so that I may now have forgiveness for my sins and eternal life. I know that without you in my heart my life is meaningless.

    I believe in my heart that you, Lord God, raised Him from the dead. Please Jesus forgive me, for every sin I have ever committed or done in my heart, please Lord Jesus forgive me and come into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior today. I need you to be my Father and my friend.

    I give you my life and ask you to take full control from this moment on; I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ."


    June 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
    • tallulah131

      What sort of person lets another be tortured to death for their own crimes? What sort of person thinks that they deserve eternity in paradise for letting another be tortured to death for their own crimes? Do you ever think about what you believe or why?

      June 21, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
      • sunnylovetts2

        We don't deserve it, and no one forced God's hand to do it, He did it because He loved us even while we were still sinners, so He paid the price we deserved to pay to bring us back to the place we are meant to be,
        heaven where life has no end, and all sorrows meet theirs.

        June 21, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
    • idiotusmaximus

      Praying is a self-delusional enterprise....I never do it.

      June 21, 2014 at 7:22 pm |
  2. totalrecall9

    It's a start. He ought to excommunicate all the pro-gay, pro-abortion, pro-taxpayer-funded contraceptive, pro-greed, pro-evolution, pro-big bang, pro-feminist, pro-illegal immigration, and/or pro-legalizing drugs so-called "Catholics".

    June 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
    • strategicbob

      you do realize, don't you, that the Catholic Church accepts that evolution is the mechanism by which all species,including man, have come to exist? Also, the Church does not teach that the earth is only 6,000 years old. That number was "calculated" by an Irish bishop based on the number of generations shown by the "begats" listed in the Bible and an arbitrary number of years (I think it was 20) per generation.

      June 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm |
    • idiotusmaximus

      duh....THEY TRIED THAT ONCE IT'S CALLED THE INQUISITION.....which by the way the office is still running....they changed the name in 1903 to camouflage it.

      June 21, 2014 at 7:21 pm |
  3. idiotusmaximus

    Pope excommunicates Italian mobsters................

    I'm sure they care...............

    June 21, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
  4. realbuckyball

    "In good rapport" ?
    Has she no editor ?

    June 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
  5. seedenbetter

    But if he/they would only do the same with all the pedophiles that infest their cult instead of harboring, safeguarding and rewarding them.

    June 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
  6. unsername1

    Was it worth it?

    June 21, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
  7. monkeyabeyman


    Political Powers to Turn Against Babylon
    15 The whole world of mankind is now about to face an awe-inspiring spectacle. This will be the turning of the political powers against Babylon the Great, with the aim of wiping her out of existence. This may sound heart paralyzing to people who sincerely believe that all religions are good. But the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah God, has determined that Babylon the Great has no place in all the universe and that she has befouled the realm of creation long enough. She must be violently brought down to utter destruction.
    16 There are already on hand powerful agencies that God can allow to effect her destruction, namely, the political elements of the world. The God-inspired book of Revelation foretells that Jehovah will turn her lovers against her, and they will strip her naked, exposing her for what she really is—a demonized fraud! And then they will, so to speak, burn her with fire and reduce her to a pile of ashes. They will give her a treatment similar to what she gave to the uncompromising worshipers of the true God.—Revelation 17:15-18; 18:24.
    17 This violent antireligious action on the part of the political powers does not mean that they will thereafter turn to the worship of Jehovah God. Their fierce anti-Babylon action does not mean that they will now become the friends of God. Otherwise they would not take the later action that the book of Revelation shows that they will take. (Revelation 17:12-14) They may rejoice immensely at the antireligious exploits that Jehovah God has permitted them to accomplish, but they will still continue to be misled by “the god of this system of things,” Satan the Devil, the all-out, relentless opposer of Jehovah God.—2 Corinthians 4:4.
    18 Babylon the Great will not survive to see the grand climax, the vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty by means of the “Prince of Peace,” who is now the “Mighty God” at the right hand of the One Almighty and Supreme Deity, Jehovah.—Isaiah 9:6.
    19 On the sidelines, under impenetrable divine protection, will be the witnesses of Jehovah. (Isaiah 43:10, 12) Under command from the righteous heavens, they will obediently have got out of Babylon the Great. (Revelation 18:4) Their righteous pleasure will be unbounded at what they witness. They will thereafter forever be witnesses of Jehovah and eternally be able to testify with regard to his vindication of himself over Babylon the Great.—Revelation 19:1-3.

    June 21, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Deuteronomy 18:10
      "Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft"

      Your omen interpretations are an abomination unto the Lord.

      June 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
    • vancouverron

      ok surely you don't expect me to read all that drivel.

      June 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
  8. rp1588

    This is another big step forward for the priest, and former nightclub bouncer, from Buenos Aires.

    But, when will he stop supporting, and start opposing, wars of empire?

    June 21, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
  9. willister52

    good for you i am not a catholic or with any religion ,but anyone who says they are with god and sells drugs ,kills,,peddles flesh should be singled out by the church or place they worship and denounced as a hypocrite and a scourged on society,for those who take a stand good people are behind you.

    June 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
    • chosenbygrace

      just ignore that catholicism is a cult that claims their tradition is above or equal to God's word, which empowers corrupt persons like the Mafia ones. You're truly a blind person being lead by a blind person. Learn what a cult is.

      June 21, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
  10. sxstew3

    I fear for this man! You have to applaud him for standing up for what's right, of course, but he puts himself in serious danger, I'm afraid, from cleaning house at the Vatican bank, to this. God protect him!

    June 21, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
    • vancouverron

      He'd be better off with a bullet proof vest.

      June 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
      • idiotusmaximus

        Right...bullet proof vest...if one looks at the history of what god can protect including the 60 million that died in the second world war....the guy is USELESS.

        June 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
  11. Joeseph Eclaire

    Nice words Francis, by the way I like that name Francis, anyway your church has always been supporter by the mob. You look the other way on Sunday when the rather large checks are dumped into the basket.

    I make note of 'words', you sure have said a lot in your short time as head of the Catholic church, it remains to be seen if any of those words ever morph into action of any substance.

    June 21, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
  12. marksa77

    The Mafia should not target him, but in return protect him.

    June 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
  13. dotyrs

    As an atheist, I must say that I LOVE this man.

    June 21, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
    • chosenbygrace

      of course an atheist loves a polytheist child molester cult that makes christianity look like liberalism

      June 21, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
    • Joeseph Eclaire

      Yeah no doubt.
      Who needs the mobs money when you can fill the pews with a new revenue source of h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l-s and d ope smokers.

      Finally a leader who represents God to p imp their case uh.

      June 21, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
    • seedenbetter

      An atheist should know better than to buy into all the PR bullshit.

      June 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
  14. jerkpork

    Stay tuned tomorrow to hear about how the pope wakes up with a horse head in his bed.

    June 21, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
    • georgetullos

      Well the Mob isn't what it used to be, however I would hate to have the Pope come up missing, or assassinated. I thought they were in business with the Mob?...lol.

      June 21, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
  15. peterblood71

    Now THIS is a Pope and not just a figurehead putting his beliefs where his mouth is. Not that this will stop corrupt Mafia and similar types but at least they can no longer hide behind any kind of Catholic religious legitimacy. This is the first Pope I've had any respect for like the Reverend Billy Graham as being role models as a religious leader and properly calling people out and living life more in the way the Bible suggests. Religion can be a force for good as well as evil.

    June 21, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
  16. kosarkid

    Probably should have gotten rid of the pedophile priests first.

    June 21, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
    • hunny13

      Hear! Hear! I love this pope and am grateful to have lived long enough to have witnessed the papacies of both John 23rd and Francis. Nevertheless, I'd have been ever so much more enthusiastic if he had excommunicated first the vile satan-spawned pedophile priests who have distorted and destroyed the souls of soooooo many precious innocents.

      June 21, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
  17. judeberman

    About time.

    June 21, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
  18. davidmer

    The Pope is not concerned about his own safety. Only what he know to be the truth. Other should take example.

    June 21, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
    • jesusislord0307

      Thank God for this Pope, I do feel he represents the ways our Lord would have us go. The bullies, criminals ,etc must be shown they can not be condoned as they are such evil hypocrites.... May our God bless and save us all, including Pope Francis, Shalom from KC,MO usa

      June 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
      • realbuckyball

        Really ? Why has your Jebus been sitting on his hands all these years, and waited till now ?

        June 21, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
        • tallulah131

          It's sort of astonishing how much credit people give this pope for pointing out that criminals are bad.

          June 21, 2014 at 5:38 pm |
        • davidmer

          You realize he could be killed by the mob?

          June 22, 2014 at 8:22 am |
  19. claudefm

    That must help people to understand what is ZERO tolerance to crime

    June 21, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
  20. jhg45

    that will put an end to crime.

    June 21, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
    • onesti78

      No it will not stop all crime but if it stops one crime then god bless him for saying it

      June 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
      • tallulah131

        It won't stop one crime. The pope is relevant only to those who think that he is relevant.

        June 21, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
        • jhg45

          does no one recognize sarcasm?

          June 21, 2014 at 10:29 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.