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.
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?
MY OPEN LETTER TO POPE FRANCIS (A NO DOUBT FUTURE AVID READER OF THIS BLOG):
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
CONTINUED READING ON THIS SUBJECT:
- La Repubblica (Italian language): Calabria, la Madonna fa l’inchino al boss (Calabria, the Madonna pays respects to mob boss)
- Time: What It Reallly Means for Pope Francis to Excommunicate the Mob
- The Guardian: Pope Francis ‘excommunicates’ mafia
- Vox: No, Pope Francis did not officially excommunicate the mafia
- The New Yorker: The Pope Excommunicates the Mafia, Finally