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Vatican seeks excommunication process for those involved in corruption, mafia

Fabrycs | Shutterstock

Throughout February 2018 the pope's worldwide prayer network's intention will be for the conversion of Mafiosi and people who participate in corruption.

The Vatican has announced that it is working to “define the role of the Church and lay people against corruption, the mafia and organized crime.”

“Corruption, prior to being an act, is a condition: hence the need for culture, education, training, institutional action, citizen participation.” These words are from the Outcome document of the International Debate on Corruption, an event  sponsored by the Vatican’s new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the purpose of which is to express and act on “the Holy See’s concern for issues of justice and peace, including those related to migration, health, charitable works and the care of creation.”

The document, which lays out the agenda of the International Consultation Group for justice, corruption, organized crime and mafia, states that it will now study how to excommunicate those who participate in the Mafia, and the prospect of excommunicating those involved in crimes of corruption.

As reported in L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis has said that “corrupt stewards, ‘devoted to the goddess of bribery,’ commit a ‘grave sin against human dignity’ and feed ‘dirty bread’ to their own children.” (From a November 8, 2013 report in Spanish; a similar report was published in English.)

The International Consultation Group will intensify its work starting this September.

Similarly, Pope Francis’ Worldwide Prayer Network has been entrusted with the mission of dedicating the month of February 2018 to praying “that those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.” According to the Outcome document, this intention was chosen “to commemorate once again the assassination of Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi, priest and martyr,” killed by Mafia hitmen in 1993.

Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, the head of this Dicastery, was placed in charge of convoking this first International Consultation on corruption and crime, which took place this past June 15 at the offices of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. Participants included prosecutors, judges, associations, and victims of crimes, in order to create a worldwide network and organize a cultural battle against corruption.

The organizers confess that it was not easy to draw up the final document of the event, the purpose of which is to create forums for reflecting on these realities, in which the participants will study the “legal doctrine of the Church” regarding “the issue of excommunication for corruption and mafia association.” (See the Vatican press release after the event.)

“Corruption is the way of living blasphemy; corruption is a form of blasphemy, the language of this Babylon.” Pope Francis, homily at Casa Santa Marta, November 23, 2016.

The task of the anti-corruption network requires the collaboration of episcopal conferences, which will be called upon to help “the development of a global response … to the excommunication of the mafia and other similar criminal organizations and to the prospect of excommunication for corruption.”  Pope Francis mentioned the excommunication of Mafia members during a visit to southern Italy in June 2014. On that occasion, he spoke these powerful words regarding the feared Calabrian Mafia, the L’Ndrangheta: “Those who in their lives have taken this evil road, this road of evil—such as the mobsters—they are not in communion with God; they are excommunicated.”

Excommunication is the most serious punishment a Catholic can receive, and generally it can only be lifted through the sacrament of confession with absolution received from a priest. Some excommunications, however, can only be lifted by a bishop or by the Holy See’s Apostolic Penitentiary.

Among the goals listed for the Consultation Group is that of establishing the various definitions of “corruption.” The document promises the Group will go beyond simply proposing “virtuous exhortations, because concrete gestures are needed. In fact, a commitment to education requires credible teachers, even in the Church,” including clergy, religious, and laity.

“The Church in the world is in itself a network, and for this reason it can and must serve this purpose with courage, resolution, transparency, spirit of collaboration, and creativity.”

Pope Francis: Mafiosi are excommunicated

“This is ’ndrangheta: Adoration of evil and contempt for the common good. This evil must be fought, it must be cast out! One must say ‘no’ to it!” These are strong words, spoken by Pope Francis against the organized crime that afflicts Calabria through the sin of substituting adoration of the Lord for worshiping money. The pope pronounced these words forcefully during the homily of the concluding Mass of his visit to the diocese of Cassano all’Jonio, in the presence of more than 250,000 people, on the feast of Corpus Christi. “When God, the Lord, is not adored,” the Pope stated, “we become adorers of evil, like those who live by dishonesty and violence.”

Translated from Aleteia’s Spanish Edition

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