Vatican forms commission on day of beatification of judge slain by mob.
Just as a judge who was murdered by the mafia took a further step toward being declared a saint, the Vatican established a commission to excommunicate current members of the mob.
Vatican News reported this week that the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announced the creation of a working group with the aim of excommunicating members of the mafia.
The initiative is a “further step in the commitment on these issues of the Dicastery presided over by Cardinal Peter Turkson, who had already created an international global network against corruption, organized crime and mafias in August 2018,” Vatican News explained.
The Church excommunicates Catholics for “certain particularly grave sins,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1463). It is, the catechism says, “ the most severe ecclesiastical penalty” and “impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain eclesiastical acts.” Absolution cannot be granted except by the pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them.
According to Dominican Fr. Aquinas Guilbeau, writing at Aleteia, the purpose of excommunication is “to encourage conversion, the excommunicate’s return to the light of truth and the communion of grace.”
Recent popes have made frequent statements about the mafia, including Pope Francis, who, in his encyclical Fratelli tutti, emphasized how the “loneliness, fears and insecurity of so many people, who feel abandoned by the system, mean that a fertile ground for mafias is being created.”
Organized-crime outfits impose themselves by presenting themselves as “protectors” of the forgotten, Francis said.
Vatican News recalled that the pope “excommunicated the mafiosi in Sibari, in 2014. In a homily at Mass, he described Calabria region’s ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate as ‘worship of evil and contempt for the common good.’ He said the mafiosi ‘are not in communion with God: they are excommunicated.'”
In 1993, Pope St. John Paul II called for the conversion of mafiosi in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento in Sicily.
It was in Agrigento May 9 that a Sicilian magistrate, Rosario Livatino, who was killed by the Mafia in 1990, became the first judge to be beatified in the history of the Church.
Pope Benedict XVI defined the mafia as a “road of death” during his visit to Palermo in 2010.