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Italy

Why is Pope Francis spending so much time going after the Mafia?

It began with the death of an innocent 3-year-old boy who burned to death in his grandfather's car in a Mafia ambush in January. Pope Francis was so shaken by the death of Nicola "Coco" Campolongo that he spoke out against the ferocity of the crime and those behind it.

But he didn't stop there. In June, the outspoken pontiff traveled to the southern Italian town where the murder took place and accused Mafia members of pursuing the "adoration of evil." Then he went one step further.

Religious procession past Mafia boss' home irks Italy's Catholic clergy

Only two weeks after Pope Francis announced he was excommunicating the Mafia, a religious procession in southern Italy has provoked uproar after paying homage to a convicted mobster.

Catholic bishops condemned the detour of the traditional procession, which carried a statue of the Madonna past the house of 82-year-old Peppe Mazzagatti, a Mafia boss serving a life sentence under house arrest.

Order of Malta aids immigrants arriving at Lampedusa, elsewhere

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According to Vatican Radio:

Over 400 migrants arrived on the Italian Island of Lampedusa on Thursday after having been rescued by the Italian Navy in a series of rescue operations.

They include 83 minors and at least ten new born babies.

The migrants come largely from Eritrea, Nigeria, Syria, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Mali.

Priests on front line in Italy's battle against Mafias

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Pope Francis' dramatic appearance at a March prayer vigil with the families of Mafia victims, where he said he would plead on bended knee with Mafia bosses to "stop doing evil," has highlighted the Catholic church's role in combatting Italian organized crime.

"Pope Francis awakens consciences. Many who were a long way from the church are now asking to be baptized," said Fr. Luigi Ciotti, founder of the Italian anti-Mafia association Libera, which organized the March 21 vigil in Rome. "The pope brings a moral renewal that touches everyone. Every day I see the results."

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July 18-31, 2014

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