Pope renews call to conversion for Mafia members

(AGI) Vatican City, Feb 21 - Pope Francis urged members ofItalian organised crime groups on Saturday to repent, pointingout that people who deliberately carry out acts of violencecannot call themselves Christians. The Pope's comments werecontained in a speech delivered on Saturday to pilgrims fromthe Diocese of Cassano all'Jonio, who had travelled to Rome ona 'return visit' to thank the Holy Father. "They cannot callthemselves Christians and violate the dignity of person; thosewho belong to the Christian community cannot program or carryout gestures of violence against others and against theenvironment," he

(AGI) Vatican City, Feb 21 - Pope Francis urged members ofItalian organised crime groups on Saturday to repent, pointingout that people who deliberately carry out acts of violencecannot call themselves Christians. The Pope's comments werecontained in a speech delivered on Saturday to pilgrims fromthe Diocese of Cassano all'Jonio, who had travelled to Rome ona 'return visit' to thank the Holy Father. "They cannot callthemselves Christians and violate the dignity of person; thosewho belong to the Christian community cannot program or carryout gestures of violence against others and against theenvironment," he said. When he visited Calabria on June 21, hesaid members of organised crime had excommunicated themselvesfrom the Church by their actions. On the day of the returnvisit led by the Secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference(CEI), Bishop Nunzio Galantino, the Pontiff came back on thequestion. "To those who have chosen the path of evil and areaffiliated to criminal organisations I renew the pressinginvitation to conversion. Open your heart to the Lord! The Lordis waiting for you and the Church welcomes you if yourwillingness to serve the good is as clear and public as wasyour choice to serve evil." "External gestures of religiositythat are not accompanied by a real and public conversion arenot enough to be considered in communion with Christ and HisChurch. External gestures of religiosity are not enough tocredit as believers, those who with the malice and arrogancetypical of criminals, make lawlessness their lifestyle," hetold the pilgrims. "Oppose the culture of death and bewitnesses to the Gospel of Life! The light of the Word of Godand the support of the Holy Spirit will help you to look withnew and welcoming eyes towards the many new forms of povertywhich cast many young people and families into despair. Our erais in great need of hope! Young people should not be deniedhope, young people need to hope; we must offer thoseexperiencing pain and suffering concrete signs of hope. Socialrealities and associations, as well as individuals who work inhospitality and sharing, are generators of hope. Therefore Iurge your Christian communities to be protagonists ofsolidarity, not to stop in front of those who, out of a narrowself-interest, sow selfishness, violence and injustice," thePontiff concluded. . .