Pontiff Slams Organized Crime in Naples

Calls for Initiatives to Curb "Mentality" of Violence

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NAPLES, Italy, OCT. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI called for widespread initiatives in Naples to help curb the prevalent "mentality" of violence in the city, and slammed in particular the organized crime of the Camorra.

The Pope's words were heard today by more than 20,000 people who, despite the rain, gathered for Sunday Mass in the Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples. During the liturgical celebration he was flanked by the archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, and 77 bishops and 700 priests.



The Holy Father made the one-day apostolic trip to the Italian city to open the 21st International Encounter of Peoples and Religions. The meeting, organized by the Community of Sant'Egidio in Naples until Oct. 23, has as its theme "Toward a World Without Violence: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue."

"Life is not easy" in Naples, the Pontiff said in his homily. He lamented the many "situations of poverty, homelessness, unemployment and underemployment, and the lack of prospects for the future," but saved his strongest words for the "sad phenomenon of violence" in the city.

He mentioned in particular the "horrendous number of crimes of the Camorra." The Camorra is an Italian crime clan that has a long history in the city of Naples.

It spreads

Benedict XVI said the violence of organized crime "unfortunately tends to become a widespread mentality, insinuating itself into the social fabric, in the historical areas and center of the city and in the new and anonymous outskirts, with the risk of attracting in particular the young who grow up in environments where illegality, black-market labor and the culture of survival thrive."

The Pope asked that there be an "intensification of efforts to develop a serious strategy of prevention" in the forms programs that help young people to succeed in school and to get jobs, and to manage their free time.

"What is needed is an intervention that involves everyone in the struggle against every form of violence, beginning with the formation of conscience and transforming everyday mentalities, attitudes and conduct," he added.

After reciting the Angelus, the Pope left the rainy Piazza del Pleblescito and headed to archdiocesan seminary to meet with 300 interreligious leaders who are participating in the meeting for peace.

Before returning to Rome, the Holy Father made a visit to the Chapel of San Gennaro in Naples' cathedral. He venerated the relics of the fourth-century saint, patron of Naples. He then returned to the Vatican by helicopter.