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Francis urges God to help mafiosi repent

23 gennaio 2017 | 13.56
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Pope Francis on Monday implored the Lord to help mafia members to renounce evil and to do good instead, warning that their bloody crimes give them "unjust power".

"May our merciful and just God enter the hearts of mafia men and women in order that they stop their wrongdoing and undergo spiritual conversion to a righteous path," Francis said.

He was speaking at an audience at the Vatican attended by anti-mafia prosecutors and members of Italy's national anti-mafia directorate.

"Laundered money and cash from mafia crimes is steeped in blood and produces an unjust power," the pontiff continued.

Francis acknowledged that those present at Monday's audience risked their and their families' personal safety but urged them to "never to give up" their battle against "graft, violence, the mafia and terrorism".

"The mafia phenomenon is the expression of a culture of death and is to be fought," he said.

"It is dramatically opposed to religious faith and the teachings of the Gospel," Francis underlined.

Francis praised "the many parishes and Catholic associations" who he said were working to combat the sources of organised crime and corruption.

"The Church is close to people living in desperate situations who need help to break out of the downward spiral of violence and rediscover hope," the pontiff concluded.

At an annual ceremony held in Rome to remember the hundreds of innocent people murdered by the Italian mafia, Francis in March 2014 warned mafiosi would "end up in hell" unless they repented.

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