Pope Francis made this appeal to the Mafia during a Friday evening prayer vigil. The Holy Father participated in the 19th Annual Day of Memory and Commitment, which is organized but Italian Association “Libera”, to remember the victims of organised crime.
During the vigil, the names of over 800 victims, 82 of whom were children, were read. Addressing the participants, the Holy Father expressed his desire to share the hope that “the sense of responsibility, little by little, might conquer corruption in every part of the world.”
The Pope also expressed his solidarity to the families of the victims of mafia violence. ”Thank you for your witness, because you are not closed, you are open, you have come out to tell your story of pain and hope,” he said. “This is so important, especially for young people!”
Mafia violence, particularly against children has been on the rise in Italy. Last week, a two year old child was killed, along with his parents, after local Mafia gunmen forced the car they were traveling in off the road and shot more than 15 bullets through the windshield. The Pope said the recent murder was “merciless.”
The Holy Father also addressed the members of the mafia, calling on them to “convert” and “cease to do evil.”
“Convert, I ask it on my knees; it is for your own good,” he said. “This life you are living now, it won’t bring you pleasure, it won’t give you joy, it won’t bring you happiness. The power, the money, that you possess now from so many dirty jobs, from so many mafia crimes, is blood money, it is power soaked in blood, and you cannot take it with you to the next life. Convert, there is still time, so that you don’t end up in hell. That is what awaits you if you continue on this path. You had a father and a mother: think of them. Cry a little and convert.”
After his appeal, Pope Francis concluded by leading participants in praying the ‘Hail Mary.’ (J.A.E.)