Pope Francis said “it becomes decisive to oppose in every way the grave problem of corruption that, in contempt for the general interest, is the fertile ground in which the mafias take root and develop.”
His comments came in an address September 21, 2017 to the members of the Anti-Mafia Italian Parliamentary Commission with their families. The event took place in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.
“To fight against the mafias means not only to repress,” the Holy Father explained. “It also means to reclaim, to transform, to build.”
The Pope recommended that mafias be addressed in two manners. First, on the political front, “through greater social justice, because the mafias have an easy game in proposing as an alternative system on their own territory, where rights and opportunities are lacking, work, house, education, health care. “
The second area he proposed is economic, “through the correction and cancellation of those mechanisms that generate inequality and poverty everywhere.”
He concluded by noting the need to help those who want to leave the corrupt live: “A way must be found that will enable a clean person, but belonging to mafia families or contexts, to come out without suffering vendettas and retaliations.”
Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s address to those present at the audience
The Holy Father’s Address
Honourable Deputies and Senators, I’m happy to receive you and I thank the President of the Commission, The Honourable Bindi, for his courteous words.
First of all, my thought goes to all those persons who in Italy paid with their life for their fight against the mafias. In particular, I remember three Magistrates: the Servant of God Rosario Livatino, killed on September 21, 1990; Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, killed 25 years ago together with all those that escorted them.
While I was preparing this meeting, there passed through my mind evangelical scenes, in which it won’t be difficult for us to recognize the signs of that moral crisis that persons and institutions are going through today. The truth of Jesus’ words is always timely” “What comes out of man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile man” (Mark 7:20-23).
The point of departure is always man’s heart, his relationships <and> his attachments. We will never keep sufficient watch over this abyss, where the person is exposed to temptations of opportunism, of deceit and of fraud, made more dangerous by the refusal to question oneself. When we shut ourselves in self-sufficiency we arrive easily at self-complacency and at the pretension of making ourselves the norm of everything and everyone. It is also the sign of a deviant politics bent on party interests and non-limpid agreements. One succeeds then in suffocating the appeal of the conscience, in trivializing evil, in confusing truth with lies and in benefitting from the role of public responsibility that one has.
Genuine politics, which we recognize as an eminent form of charity, works instead to ensure a future of hope and to promote the dignity of each. Precisely because of this, it regards the fight against mafias as its priority, in as much as they rob the common good, taking away hope and the dignity of persons.
In this connection, it becomes decisive to oppose in every way the grave problem of corruption that, in contempt for the general interest, is the fertile ground in which the mafias take root and develop. Corruption always finds the way to justify itself, presenting itself as the “normal” condition, the solution of one who is “sly,” the way to follow to obtain one’s objectives. It has a contagious and parasitical nature, because it is not nourished on the good that it produces, but on what subtracts and robs. It is a poisonous root that alters healthy competition and deters investments. At bottom, corruption is a habitus built on the idolatry of money and the commercialization of human dignity, for which it is combatted with no less incisive measures than those foreseen in the fight against the mafias.
To fight against the mafias means not only to repress. It also means to reclaim, to transform, to build, and this entails a commitment at two levels. The first is the political, through greater social justice, because the mafias have an easy game in proposing as an alternative system on their own territory, where rights and opportunities are lacking, work, house, education, health care.
The second level of commitment is economic, through the correction and cancellation of those mechanisms that generate inequality and poverty everywhere. Today we can no longer speak of the fight against the mafias without raising the enormous problem of a finance now sovereign over democratic rules, thanks to which the criminal realities invest and multiply the already massive profits obtained from their traffics: drugs, weapons, trafficking of persons, disposal of toxic waste, conditionings of the contracts for large works, gambling, racketeering.
This twofold level, political and economic, presupposes another no less essential, which is the building of a new civil conscience, the only one that can lead to a true liberation of the mafias. It is truly useful to educate and to educate oneself to constant vigilance of oneself and of the context in which one lives, increasing a more acute perception of the phenomena of corruption and working for a new way of being citizens that includes care and responsibility for others and for the common good.
Italy can be proud of having put in the field against the mafia a legislation that involves the State and citizens, Administrations and Associations, the secular and the Catholic and religious world in a broad sense. The goods confiscated from the mafias and reconverted to social use represent, in this connection, genuine gymnasiums of life. In these realities, young people study, they learn knowledge and responsibility, find work and fulfilment. In them also many elderly, poor or disadvantaged persons find hospitality, service and dignity.
Finally, it can’t be forgotten that the fight against the mafias passes through the protection and promotion of witnesses of justice, persons who expose themselves to grave risks by choosing to denounce the violence of which they were witnesses. A way must be found that will enable a clean person, but belonging to mafia families or contexts, to come out without suffering vendettas and retaliations. There are many women, especially mothers, who are seeking to do so, by rejecting criminal logics in the desire to guarantee their children a different future. One must succeed in helping them, in respect, certainly, of courses of justice, but also of their dignity as persons that choose goodness and life.
Exhorting you, dear brothers and sisters, to take forward with dedication and a sense of duty the task entrusted to you for the good of all, I invoke upon you God’s blessing. May you be comforted by the certainty of being accompanied by Him who is rich in mercy, and by the awareness that He who doesn’t tolerate violence and abuse may render you tireless workers of justice. Thank you.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]