Pope Francis Saturday excommunicated members of organized crime, saying they are guilty of practicing "the adoration of evil."
In a visit to Calabria, one of Italy's most Mafia-infested areas, the pope drew sustained applause when he said, "This evil must be fought against, it must be pushed aside. We must say no to it," Reuters reported. He added the local Mafiosi, members of 'Ndrangheta, are guilty of the "adoration of evil and contempt of the common good."
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Ciro Benedettini said the pontiff's words stopped short of canon law. Rather, he said, the pope was pointing out members of organized crime had excommunicated themselves by committing criminal acts. He said the pope was trying to "isolate Mafiosi within their own communities."
“Those who in their life have gone along the evil ways, as in the case of the Mafia, they are not with God, they are excommunicated," Francis said, according to CNN.
“They must be told, No!” the pope said during an outdoor mass attended by 100,000 in Piana di Sibari.
In 1993, the Scilian Mafia committed a number of church bombings after Pope John Paul warned members they would "one day face the justice of God."