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Organized crime

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.

Italian archbishop calls for 10-year ban on godparents to stop Mafia infiltration

After a pledge by Pope Francis to "excommunicate" mobsters from the Catholic Church, an archbishop in southern Italy has proposed a 10-year ban on naming godparents at baptisms and confirmations as a way to stop the mafia from spreading its influence.

Msgr. Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, the archbishop of Reggio Calabria, wrote to Francis some time ago with his suggestion "to prevent the exploitation of the church," in particular by the powerful Calabrian mafia known as 'Ndrangheta, and discussed his proposal with the pope at the Vatican last weekend.

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."

Pope to Mafiosi: Turn away now from the road to hell

Surrounded by survivors of innocent people killed by the Mafia, Pope Francis made an emotional appeal to Italian gangsters to give up their lives of crime and avoid eternal damnation.

"Men and women of the Mafia, please change your lives, convert, stop doing evil," the pope said at a prayer vigil Friday. "I ask on my knees and for your own good.

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September 12-25, 2014

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