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Lawman warns that Pope Francis may become target of organized crime

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Leading anti-mob prosecutor Nicola Gratteri says that Pope Francis may become the target of the 'Ndrangheta organized crime organization. The 55-year-old Gratteri, himself a target of mafia threats, says the pope's effort to reform the church is making the "'Ndrangheta "very nervous."  

LOS ANEGELS, CA (Catholic Online) - A state prosecutor in the southern Italian region of Calabria, Gratteri says that the "'Ndrangheta is most active" in his region. Considered by experts in Italy to be the most dangerous, most unified and most difficult to penetrate mafia-type organization in the country, Gratteri says "I cannot say if the organization is in a position to do something like this, but they are dangerous and it is worth reflecting on.

"If the godfathers can find a way to stop him, they will seriously consider it.

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"Those who have up until now profited from the influence and wealth drawn from the church are getting very nervous," he added. "For many years, the mafia has laundered money and made investments with the complicity of the church. But now the pope is dismantling the poles of economic power in the Vatican, and that is dangerous."

In southern Italy, associations with the church give crime figures legitimacy. Many gangsters have strong and high-profile relationships with local church leaders. Garretti says that most Italian mobsters are practicing Catholics, despite their violent activities.

"A gunman from the ''Ndrangheta will pray and kiss his rosary before shooting someone," Gratteri notes. He has been under police protection against the mob since the 1980s.

Gratteri was named by Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta to head a special committee aimed at curbing the influence of organized crime.

Pope Francis has been particularly outspoken against organized crime in the past, He has specifically naming the country's four main organized crime groups -including the ''Ndrangheta in May.

Francis spoke out against corruption earlier this week, quoting Jesus from the Gospel of St. Luke: "It would be better for (the corrupt man) if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea."

Pope Francis' willingness to break protocol in order to engage with the faithful has been a security issue since the early days of Francis' papacy.

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