Mobsters in Italy are known for ‘hijacking’ Catholic tradition, for example by taking part in religious processions, to win support by ‘presenting themselves as having God on their side’.
Pope Francis is backing efforts to stop the Mafia from exploiting the image of the Virgin Mary for their own criminal ends.
Mobsters are known for ‘hijacking’ Catholic tradition, for example by taking part in religious processions, to win support by ‘presenting themselves as having God on their side’.
But the Vatican is trying to change that with a new think-tank, set up by its Pontifical Marian Academy, which launched today at a conference called Liberating Mary from the Mafia.
In a message from the Pope read out at the start of the conference, held at Rome’s Museum of Civilisations, Francis said the religious and cultural image of the Madonna ‘must be preserved in its original purity.’
Pope Francis, pictured meeting worshippers at the Vatican on Wednesday, is backing efforts to ‘liberate’ the image of the Virgin Mary from inappropriate use by Mafia mobsters
The Catholic Church in Italy has long been associated with the Mafia, thanks in part to their post-war common cause against Communism.
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project says that the use of the Virgin Mary by gangsters is ‘rampant’ in Italy.
The ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate is known to use a Catholic shrine in southern Italy to host its meetings, it says.
Elsewhere, religious processions devoted to the Virgin Mary will take detours to salute the home of a local mafia don.
The ‘Ndrangheta and other mafia groups use the trappings of Catholicism to ‘teach the people that God is with them’, Father Stefano Cecchin told Vatican News.
By Associated Press
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