Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ address to members of the National Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Directorate in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Monday morning:
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Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy to receive you, who represent the National Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Directorate. I greet you warmly and thank Dr Franco Roberti for his words. 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. They exploit economic, social and political shortages, they find a fertile ground to carry out their deplorable plans. Among your competencies there is also the opposition to terrorism, which is assuming increasingly a cosmopolitan and devastating aspect. I wish to express to you my appreciation and my encouragement for your 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. 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. They are genuine sores and, at the same time, global challenges that the international collectivity is called to address with determination. In this perspective, I have learned that your activity of opposition to crime is carried out opportunely with colleagues of other States. Such work, carried out in synergy and with effective means, constitutes an effective defense and a bulwark of security for everyone.
Society puts great trust in your professionalism and your experience as prosecutors committed to combating and eradicating organized crime. I exhort you to dedicate 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! In this respect, it is necessary to increase 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.
To complement and reinforce your precious work, there must be educational interventions of far-reaching breadth, geared in particular to the new generations. To this end, 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. 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.
The mafia phenomenon, as expression of a culture of death, must be opposed and combated. It is radically opposed to faith and to the Gospel, which are always pro-life. All those who follow Christ have thoughts of peace, of fraternity, of justice, of hospitality and of forgiveness. When the Gospel’s lymph flows in Christ’s disciples, well recognizable fruits mature also on the outside, with corresponding behavior, which the Apostle Paul identifies with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22).
I think of the many parishes and Catholic associations that are witnesses of these fruits. They carry out a praiseworthy work on the ground, geared to the promotion of people, a cultural and social promotion geared to extirpating progressively from the root the evil plant of organized crime and corruption. Manifested also 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.
Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you always the strength to go forward, to not be discouraged, and to continue to fight against corruption, violence, the mafia and terrorism. I am 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, on the part of the citizens that benefit from your work, [a supplement] of support, of prayer and of closeness. I assure that I am very close to you in your work, and I pray for you.
At the same time, 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.
For you, your families and your work I invoke the Lord’s support. I repeat: I am very close to you. And while I also ask you to pray for me, I bless you from my heart.
May the Lord bless you and your families.
[Blessing][Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]