Pope Francis warns Mafia - repent over 'bloodstained money' or 'end up in hell'

Pontiff delivered his most forceful denunciation of organised crime yet

Pope Francis has delivered his most damning denunciation of organised crime yet, warning Mafia mobsters to repent or end up in hell.

The pontiff’s stern caution came after a prayer vigil at a Roman Catholic church for relatives of innocents killed by the Mafia, during which the names of 842 victims were read aloud as a sombre Francis looked on.

After voicing his solidarity with the family members, he said he could not leave the service without addressing the "protagonists" of Mafia violence.

Addressing these absentee mafiosi, Francis was unrelenting: "This life that you live now won't give you pleasure. It won't give you joy or happiness," he said.

 

"Blood-stained money, blood-stained power, you can't bring it with you to your next life. Repent. There's still time to not end up in hell, which is what awaits you if you continue on this path."

His comments came after the death of three-year-old Domenico Petruzzelli this week, who was brutally murdered along with his mother and her companion during a mob hit in southern Taranto in which assailants opened fire on their car.

Domenico's two older brothers, sitting in the backseat, escaped unharmed.

In January this year the remains of another toddler, Nicola Campolongo, were found in a burnt-out car in the neighbouring region of Calabria, along with his grandfather and another man.

Francis highlighted the attack in his remarks, ending his exhortation to mobsters with a reminder.

"You had a father, a mother. Think of them," he said. "Weep a little. And convert yourselves."

Read more:
Gallery: The grim results of southern Italy's Mafia wars
Myths about the Mafia exposed
Cosa Nostra is reorganising itself – over banquets
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