“May the just and merciful Lord touch the heart of the men and women of the various mafias, so that they halt, stop doing evil, are converted and change their life. The money of dirty affairs and mafia crimes is bloodied money, which produces an iniquitous power. We all know that the devil ‘enters through pockets”: the first corruption lies there.”
As in Misericordiae Vultus, as well as on the Sibari Plain, recalling John Paul II’s fiery words in the Valley of the Temples, Pope Francis condemned once again “the mafia phenomenon, as expression of a culture of death, to be opposed and combated” and that “is radically opposed to faith and to the Gospel, which are always pro-life.”
He did so during today’s audience to the National Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Directorate (DIA), headed by the National Procurator Franco Roberti. “The functions entrusted to you by the State regard the pursuit of offenses of the three great criminal organizations of a mafia stamp: mafia, camorra and ‘ndrangheta,” stressed the Pontiff.
They “exploit economic, social and political shortages, they find a fertile ground to carry out their deplorable plans.” Therefore, he exhorted the members of the DIA to never lose “the strength to go forward” in the fight against corruption, violence, the mafia and, latterly, also terrorism, which is assuming increasingly a cosmopolitan and devastating aspect.” This is a “difficult and risky activity, but all the more indispensable for rescue and liberation from the power of criminal associations, which make themselves responsible for violence and abuses stained by human blood,” noted Bergoglio. The Holy Father is pleased that this work of opposition to crime “is carried out opportunely with colleagues of other States”: it is realized “in synergy and with effective means,” constituting “an effective defense and a bulwark of security for everyone.”
Francis is “aware of the fact that the work you do also implies the risk of life; I know this, and the risk of other dangers for you and for your families. The mafia’s way of acting does these things.” Therefore, “it requires a supplement of passion, of a sense of duty and strength of spirit and also, on our part of the citizens that benefit from your work, [a supplement] of support, of prayer and of closeness,” he added off-the-cuff.
On the other hand, remarked the Pontiff, “society puts great trust in your professionalism and your experience as prosecutors committed to combating and eradicating organized crime.” “Society is in need of being healed from corruption, extortion and the illicit traffic of drugs and arms, from the traffic of human beings, among which there are so many children, reduced to slavery.” These are “genuine sores and, at the same time, global challenges that the international collectivity is called to address with determination,” stressed the Holy Father.
In particular, the Bishop of Rome exhorted his listeners to make “every effort, especially in the opposition to the traffic of persons and the smuggling of migrants: these are very grave offenses that strike the weakest of the weak!:, he said. The Pope encouraged them to “increate the activity of protection of the victims, providing legal and social assistance to these brothers and sisters of ours in search of peace and a future.” “All those who flee from their country, because of war, violence and persecutions, have the right to find adequate hospitality and appropriate protection in countries that define themselves civil,” affirmed Pope Francis.
The reinforcement of the “precious work of repression” carried out by the DIA , makes evident the need of “educational interventions of far-reaching breadth, geared in particular to the new generations.” To this end, he stressed, “the different educational agencies, among which are families, schools, Christian communities, sports and cultural realities, are called to foster a conscience of morality and legality oriented to honest models of life, peace-loving and solidaristic that, little by little, defeat the evil and smooth the way to goodness.
Francis added: “it is about starting with consciences, to heal the intentions, choices <and> attitudes of individuals, so that the social fabric opens to the hope of a better world.” In this perspective, the work carried out by “many parishes and Catholic associations is praiseworthy, geared <as it is> to the promotion of people,” and including “a cultural and social promotion geared to extirpating progressively from the root the evil plant of organized crime and corruption.” “Manifested in these initiatives is the proximity of the Church to all those living in dramatic situations, who are in need of being helped to come out of the spiral of violence and to be regenerated in hope, “ noted Francis.
The Pontiff concluded by assuring them of his closeness. “I pray for your work and for you. I am very close to you,” he said.