Pope condemns the mafia, persecution of Christians
Pope Francis denounced the dishonesty and violence perpetrated by members of the local mafia in his homily during his June 21 day trip to Italy’s Calabria region.
“When adoration of the Lord is substituted by adoration of money, the road to sin opens to personal interest,” he said. “When one does not adore the Lord, one becomes an adorer of evil, like those who live by dishonesty and violence.”
Pope Francis, who celebrated the Mass outdoors, recognized the beauty of the area.
“Your land, which so beautiful, knows the signs of the consequences of this sin. The ‘Ndrangheta (Calabrian mafia) is this: adoration of evil and contempt of the common good. This evil must be fought, must be expelled. It must be told no,” he said. Those who have chosen the “evil road, such as the mobsters” are “not in communion with God. They are ‘excommunicated,’” he said.
A day earlier, the pope lamented the continued persecution of Christians and other religious believers, encouraging scholars and governments to defend religious liberty the day before.
“Nowadays, persecution against Christians is stronger than it was in the first centuries of the Church, and there are more Christian martyrs than in that time,” the pope said June 20 in the Vatican's consistory hall will participants of the conference “International Religious Liberty and the Global Clash of Values.”
“It gives me great pain to see that Christians around the world suffer the most from such discrimination,” he said. Research institutions such as the Pew Research Center have found that religious hostilities involving religion reached a six-year high in 2012, while government restrictions on religion have increased in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
He called religious freedom “a fundamental right of man.” It is “not simply freedom of thought or private worship,” but “the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly, consequent to the truth one has found.”