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Pope denounces Mafia, meets father of slain boy

CASSANO ALL'JONIO, Italy (AP) -- Pope Francis journeyed Saturday to the heart of Italy's biggest crime syndicate, met the father of a 3-year-old boy slain in the region's drug war, and declared that all mobsters are automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

During his one-day pilgrimage to the southern region of Calabria, Francis comforted the imprisoned father of Nicola Campolongo in the courtyard of a prison in the town of Castrovillari.

In January the boy was shot, along with one of his grandfathers and the grandfather's girlfriend, in an attack blamed on drug turf wars in the nearby town of Cassano all'Jonio. The attackers torched the car with all three victims inside.

Pope Francis Excommunicates Mobsters For 'Evil Ways'

The boy's father and mother already were in jail at the time on drug trafficking charges. The pope had expressed his horror following the attack and promised to visit the town.

Francis embraced the man. He asked the pope to pray for the boy's mother, who was permitted to leave prison following her son's slaying and remains under house arrest. The pope also met two of the boy's grandmothers.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Francis told the father: "May children never again have to suffer in this way."

"The two grandmothers were weeping like fountains," Benedettini added.

Calabria is the power base of the `ndrangheta, a global drug trafficking syndicate that enriches itself by extorting businesses and infiltrating public works contracts in underdeveloped Calabria.

During his homily at an outdoor Mass, Francis denounced the `ndrangheta for what he called its `'adoration of evil and contempt for the common good. `'

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

Francis greeted about 200 other prisoners during his visit there.

When Francis visited a hospice, a doctor there removed a bothersome wooden splinter from one of the pope's fingers at his request, organizers said.

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barbaramary51 June 21 2014 at 3:08 PM

God be with you, Pope Francis..you are a good priest.

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5 replies
Scott June 21 2014 at 3:19 PM

This pope's got guts--I admire him!

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8 replies
Tom P June 21 2014 at 2:50 PM

The Mafiosi go to church and light candles on Sunday and then go out killing on Monday and think they are good Catholics. What idiots

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39 replies
miz.gator June 21 2014 at 3:01 PM

I'm always amazed that it seems to be impossible for people to read a news story and stay on point without connecting the dots to another soap box. Kudos to Pope Francis.

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9 replies
canonicaf1 June 21 2014 at 3:16 PM

The Mafia has also donated millions of dollars to the church for many, many years and the church has gleefully accepted the money. Hypocrites.

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50 replies
Tom P June 21 2014 at 2:48 PM

Good for the Pope!!!

Flag Reply +62 rate up
barbphen60 June 21 2014 at 2:53 PM

Wow! Now we know why god gives priests balls! But he needs to use both clangers again and excommunicate every lying politician in America who claims to be a good Catholic but supports abortion. In fact, every so-called R. Catholic who supports abortion should be kicked out.

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32 replies
English June 21 2014 at 3:12 PM

Let's hope the pope don't wake up with a horse head in his bed.

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8 replies
dsny53 June 21 2014 at 2:57 PM

Who cares if you are excommunicated, it just means you are no longer a member of a corrupt, perverted club

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33 replies
laurenceofberk June 21 2014 at 3:00 PM

You can't sell drugs or prostitution without thousands of people knowing who is doing it.

A mafia can only exist with the collaboration and corruption of the cops, and of the political system behind them.

Excommunication might help if the priests involved are honest. But that's a big if.

Flag Reply +33 rate up
4 replies
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