Two weeks ago in a visit to southern Italy, Pope Francis said that members of organized crime are excommunicated. In response, mobsters in Calabria have struck back in an unusual and insulting way.
The Italian press and the Catholic news site Zenit are reporting that during a religious procession in the Calabrian town of Oppido Mamertina, the statue of the Virgin Mary was diverted and taken in front of the home of mob boss Peppe Mazzagatti where the statue was made to bow.
Oppido Mamertina is the center of a gang called “N’drangheta” which Mazzagatti heads. The 82-year-old is serving time for murder in his home. The Calabrian prosecutor, who has gone after the Italian mafia, told the Associated Press the move was a challenge to Pope Francis.
Apparently local policemen were a part of the procession but left when they saw what was happening.
The Italian press is also reporting that 200 prisoners from the Calabrian mafia have stopped going to Mass because they think they have been excommunicated.