Pope Francis Condemns Mafia, Says Their Criminal Activities Are 'Stained With Blood'

Pope Francis celebrates Mass to mark the closing of the Jubilee year for the 800th anniversary of the official foundation of the Dominican Order in Saint John Basilica in Rome, on Jan. 21, 2017.Reuters

Pope Francis is definitely not a fan of the mafia. The pope recently voiced his condemnation of them, saying their criminal activities are "stained with blood."

The pope made the statement during an audience with members of the National Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Bureau in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace on Jan. 23, according to the Catholic News Agency.

"The phenomena of the mafia, which is an expression of a culture of death, is [something] to oppose and to fight," he told them, adding that mafia activity "is radically opposed to the faith and to the Gospel, which are important for life."

In contrast, Pope Francis said true followers of Jesus Christ "have thoughts of peace, fraternity, justice, welcome and forgiveness."

The pope's statements came as a shock to some people, especially since the mafia are known to be regular churchgoers despite their criminal activities. However, the Catholic church has made no official move yet to excommunicate them.

Back in June 2014, Pope Francis already slammed mafia members for their "adoration of evil," according to BBC News. Because of the atrocities they do, the pope said they are going on a path that is contrary to the gospel, so in a sense, they are already "excommunicated" from the church.

There are currently three main criminal organisations in Italy. These are the Mafia, which operates mainly in Sicily; the Camorra, which is engaged in criminal activities mainly in the Campagna region, particularly in Naples; and the 'Ndrangheta, which operates in Calabria.

Pope Francis said these groups are "increasingly assuming a cosmopolitan and devastating aspect" by taking advantage of social, economic, and political weaknesses. He accused them of using these as "fertile ground to achieve their deplorable projects."

He encouraged the National Anti-Mafia and the Anti-terrorism Bureau to be brave in combating these groups, "which are responsible for violence and oppression stained by human blood."