(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis concluded his one-day trip to the southern Italian region of Calabria with strong words against the Calabrian mafia, calling it “adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”
“Those who in their lives have taken this evil road, this road of evil, such as the mobsters, they are not in communion with God, they are excommunicated,” he said to applause.
The Pope made these statements on Saturday during the feast-day Mass he presided for Corpus Domini on the plains of the small town of Sibari, a once-important city in the Hellenistic period of Calabrian history.
Organizers planned for 200,000 faithful to attend. They gathered under the hot sun, with temperatures flirting around the 30-degree mark. Sitting in the first rows of the assembly were those with illness and disability, rather than local dignitaries—a decision the local bishop chose to underline ahead of the Pope’s trip.
The Pope’s visit to the region, marked by violence and corruption and renowned for mafia activity, was highly anticipated by the locals, who in recent months were rocked by the murder of Fr. Lazzaro Longobardi, as well as the death of a three-year-old boy, the innocent victim of a mafia homicide.
In his homily, the Pope spoke about the evils that can occur when adoration of God is replaced by adoration of money.
“Your land, which so beautiful, knows the signs of the consequences of this sin," he told those assembled. "This evil must be fought, must be expelled.” He called on the local Church to expend itself even more “so that good can prevail”.
“Our children ask this of us,” he added.
He said faith can help in responding to these demands. He called the faithful of the Church in Calabria to be brothers and to show each other practical solidarity, noting signs of hope in local families and in the Church. He also urged young people not to allow themselves to be robbed of hope.
He told the faithful his trip was intended to express his support for the local Church, to confirm the people in faith and charity, and to encourage them in their journey with Jesus Christ.
“Today,” he continued, “we ask the Lord to enlighten us and to convert us, so that we truly adore only him and we renounce evil in all its forms.”
He concluded, saying that in adoring Christ and following him, parishes will grow in faith and charity and they will be places where people walk alongside each other and support, help and love each other, even in difficult moments.
Listen to the report by Laura Ieraci: