Who is more powerful in Italy: the Pope or the Mafia?

I’m writing to you on this beautiful Sunday morning with a quick post that perhaps differs from my usual jesting with the Italian culture. My marito and I woke up to an Italian news article by La Repubblica that surprised us quite a bit.

Two weeks ago, Pope Francis took a bold stand against organized crime in Italy by declaring the excommunication of ‘Ndrangheta, Italy’s most powerful Mafia group. This came on the heels of a tragic murder of a 3-yr-old boy by this global drug trafficking syndicate which has a firm political hold over the region of Calabria.

Here are a few selections of what the Pope actually said in his mass to 200,000 spectators, while visiting Calabria in June:

The ‘ndrangheta is this: adoration of evil and contempt of the common good. This evil must be fought, must be expelled. It must be told no.

Those who go down the evil path, as the Mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated.

While these words were, by far, the most severe that any Pope has ever dared to utter against the Mafia, his simple statement of their excommunication is not an official proceeding. As I understand it (and I am not Catholic, so please correct me if I am wrong), an excommunicated individual is not allowed to take communion.

Well, the news article that we read this morning suggests that this won’t be a problem for members of ‘Ndrangheta. Amid all of the articles evaluating the technicalities of whether or not the Pontiff’s words constitute a formal action, there is one small thing that has been overlooked:

Siamo in Italia. E’ così.

It doesn’t matter what the technical repercussions of the Pope’s words are. All that matters is whether or not they are heeded. And it seems that they were not.

photo credit: wiki - Oppido Mamertina

photo credit: wiki – Oppido Mamertina

On June 30th, not even 2 weeks after the Pope’s bold statement chastising the Mafia’s involvement with the Church, in a practice that is unfortunately common throughout Southern Italy, the local church procession in the town of Oppido Mamertina (Reggio Calabria… not to be confused with my province, Reggio Emilia) paused in front of the house of the local mob boss to pay respects, thereby basically declaring their allegiance to the local Mafia over the Pope.

The most upsetting part of the article, however, was this:

Una brutta scena insomma, che ha scosso i militari, ma non gli altri presenti.

(An ugly scene, in short, which rocked the military, but not the others present.)

The local carabinieri (a branch of the Italian military and the representatives of legal authority) abandoned the procession in protest.

But no other officials of the public administration or the local Church followed. None.

So you tell me. Who is more powerful in Italy: the Pope or the Mafia?



Dear Pope Francis, 

It seems to me that you have gotten yourself into a little power struggle here. May I offer a piece of advice? Defrock this rebellious priest! Show the Mafia that the Church will not stand for corruption! And show Italy that things CAN change. NON è così!

Thanks. Oh, and thank you for helping me with my Italian pronunciation.

-M of MarriedToItaly.com









12 thoughts on “Who is more powerful in Italy: the Pope or the Mafia?

  1. Excommunicated means, may not receive the Sacrament of Communion, Confession, Last Rights, Marriage. May not enter Holy ground of Church. May not be buried in Consecrated Cemeteries. Soul is Condemned to Hell for Eternity. Heavy duty stuff.
    The Mafia, in all subdivisions from, Il Cammora, Ndrangheta, La Cosa Nostra, and unaffiliated groups/persons, have over time, donated heavily to, the Church. The Church never complained about that. the Church never engaged in honesty when dealing with sexual scandals involving priests, or nuns, and today, it is no longer a whisper travelling in closed circles, but in the news at times if not bribed, or online, which is unreigned completely. I have seen mass murderers who were Mafiosa, taken into Church to be given a Funeral Mass, and, a few were High Masses.
    Nobody needs crime, however, there are times every now and then when justice prevails rather than laws, and the Mafiosa bring a little refreshment to some people and then, their association is condoned. The Church will do similar at times regarding bringing refreshment to lives, so people look the other way when scandals surface, and the Church history is fraught with scandals.
    Best to leave the Mafia issue to the Courts. Best to have the Vatican be concerned with the stewardship of the actual ministry of Jesus. We live in a time when we witnessed Pope John Paul-II, and he brought people to, the Church. Continuing in his legacy would be wise, rather than enter political disputes where courts have jurisdiction. I can name no fewer than a dozen controversies the Church should rightfully address, but it is the Pope who can pontificate, best.
    Italians have always been like grapes, struggling in the earth. Lament is useless without action. Bring out the best in people. To excommunicate without a rigorous enforcement is nothing. People are like dough and kneading by an experienced baker makes a delicious and healthful bread. The baker knows, that to make bread means, at times, they will be burned by the oven. The baker does not quit. The baker is not afraid.

  2. I haven’t replied to these comments yet because I’m a bit surprised. I was waiting to see if someone else could articulate my reaction… But instead, everyone seems to think it’s perfectly acceptable. That’s the only thing I can assume since none of the comments actually said anything about the actual news item. Am I right?

    @Joanne – doesn’t matter, does it? It’s still black.
    @miscio – true… still don’t understand why that prevents a positive action by either party now…
    @Brittius – … what? The baker analogy lost me. “Best to leave Mafia issues to the courts”?? Are you kidding me? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you don’t live in Italy. That’s not quite how it works here.

    I realize that this little post I wrote was rather quick and concise. And I obviously didn’t delve into the history of the Church/Mafia relationship, which is a long one. But… in speaking about this one news article… in this one case… ARE YOU GUYS KIDDING ME? You think the Pope should do nothing? You think he has no responsibility to do anything? With all the momentum that has been built up around this case? With everyone watching as they are right now? I think it’s the perfect opportunity to make a statement, regardless of whether or not his organization is equally culpable for past (or present) actions.

    But, of course, nothing will happen. Because siamo in Italia. Everyone will go back to the way things have always been. E’ così. Is that not depressing to anyone except me?

    *Just reread this comment, and I sound a bit anger than i intended… I’m not angry! Just incredulous! 🙂

  3. I am searching for my great great grandfather Frank Favaro . He was a member of the Italian Maffia and the mafia is linked to the Catholic Church

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s