Pope wants to protect Virgin Mary from mafia: Vatican wants to stop criminals from misusing religious symbols for illicit purposes
- Gang members are known to ‘hijack’ Catholic tradition to claim that God is on their side
- Vatican launched a think tank at an event called Liberation of Mary from the Mafia
- The Pope said the image of the Madonna ‘must be preserved in original purity’
Pope Francis supports efforts to prevent the Mafia from exploiting the Virgin Mary statue for their own criminal purposes.
Gang members are known for ‘hijacking’ the Catholic tradition, for example by participating in religious processions, to gain support by ‘presenting themselves as having God by their side’.
But the Vatican is trying to change that with a new think tank, set up by the Pontifical Marian Academy, launched today at a conference called Liberation of Mary from the Mafia.
In a message from the Pope read at the start of the conference, held at the Museum of Civilizations in Rome, Francis said that the religious and cultural image of the Madonna “must be preserved in its original purity.”
Pope Francis, who in the photo meets worshipers in the Vatican on Wednesday, backs efforts to ‘free’ the statue of the Virgin Mary from inappropriate use by mafia gangsters
The Catholic Church in Italy has long been associated with the Mafia, thanks in part to their post-war common cause against communism.
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project says the use of the Virgin Mary by gangsters is “rampant” in Italy.
The ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate is known to use a Catholic shrine in southern Italy to host its gatherings, it says.
Elsewhere, religious processions dedicated to the Virgin Mary will make detours to greet the home of a local mafia don.
The ‘Ndrangheta and other mafia groups use the attributes of Catholicism to’ teach the people that God is with them, ‘Father Stefano Cecchin said. Vatican News.
Some Catholic priests have bravely opposed the crowd – and paid for it with their lives.
But others have been called upon to explain their celebration of funerals, weddings, and other mafia down sacraments, accepting their donations, and participating in their religious processions.
Pope Francis looks at a depiction of the birth of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus after presiding over a service in St. Peter’s Basilica in 2019
Pope John Paul II demanded in 1993 that Mafiosi repent, change their ways, or face the wrath of God’s final judgment.
He demanded a historic visit to Sicily after the murder of two leading anti-mafia prosecutors.
Francis has followed that tradition by declaring that gangsters were “excommunicated” and that they cannot live a Christian life because their lifestyle “blasphemes” God.
He said that all popular expressions of devotion to Mary should be “in harmony with the message of the gospel and the teachings of the Church,” and that people who participate in them should be genuine Christians looking out for others, especially the poor.
Marian devotion is especially important to Francis, the very first pope from Latin America, where display of such popular piety is common.
Organized crime groups in Brazil and Mexico are also known for using Catholic symbolism to bolster their support.
The new think tank includes clergy as well as law enforcement experts involved in the fight against organized crime.
Francis’ message to the new think tank was dated August 15, an important Catholic holiday dedicated to Mary.