Pope Francis has told Italy’s mafia they risk going to hell unless they repent and renounce their “blood-stained money and blood-stained power”.
He gave the warning on Friday, during a prayer vigil in memory of mafia victims. At the vigil, which was held at the church of San Gregorio VII in Rome, the names of 842 victims were read aloud.
The pope said: ”This life that you live now won’t give you pleasure. It won’t give you joy or happiness…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.”
The pope has previously urged mafia members to change their ways.
In January he spoke of three-year-old Nicolo Campolongo, whose burnt body was found alongside that of his grandfather’s in a car in the southern Italian town of Cassano allo Ionio. Investigators believed they were killed after a drug debt between rival families went unpaid.
The pope said: “My thoughts go to Coco Campolongo. The anger taken out on this tiny boy seems unprecedented in the history of criminality. Let us pray with Coco for these people who have committed this crime, that they repent and be converted.”
Friday’s vigil was attended by about 1,000 people, with the pope meeting relatives of victims to demonstrate the church’s solidarity with them and its opposition to organised crime, according to AFP news agency.
“Men and women of the mafia… change your way of life. Stop doing evil, convert,” the pope said.
It was the first time a pope had attended the vigil, now in its 19th year, which is organised by the anti-mafia group Libera.