Pope denounces Mafia, meets father of slain boy

Associated PressJune 21, 2014 

  • Pope’s view on legalizing drugs: Just say no

    Pope Francis condemned the legalization of recreational drugs as a flawed and failed experiment as he lent his voice Friday to a debate that is raging from the United States to Uruguay.

    Francis told delegates attending a Rome drug enforcement conference that even limited steps to legalize recreational drugs “are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects.”

    “Let me state this in the clearest terms possible,” he said. “The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs!”

    “Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise. To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem,” he added.

    Associated Press

— Pope Francis journeyed Saturday to the heart of Italy’s biggest crime syndicate, met the father of a 3-year-old boy slain in the region’s drug war, and declared that all mobsters are automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

During his one-day pilgrimage to the southern region of Calabria, Francis comforted the imprisoned father of Nicola Campolongo in the courtyard of a prison in the town of Castrovillari.

In January the boy was shot, along with one of his grandfathers and the grandfather’s girlfriend, in an attack blamed on drug turf wars in the nearby town of Cassano all’Jonio. The attackers torched the car with all three victims inside.

The boy’s father and mother already were in jail at the time on drug trafficking charges. The pope had expressed his horror following the attack and promised to visit the town.

Francis embraced the man. He asked the pope to pray for the boy’s mother, who was permitted to leave prison following her son’s slaying and remains under house arrest. The pope also met two of the boy’s grandmothers.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Francis told the father: “May children never again have to suffer in this way.”

“The two grandmothers were weeping like fountains,” Benedettini added.

Calabria is the power base of the `ndrangheta, a global drug trafficking syndicate that enriches itself by extorting businesses and infiltrating public works contracts in underdeveloped Calabria.

During his homily at an outdoor Mass, Francis denounced the `ndrangheta for what he called its `’adoration of evil and contempt for the common good. `’

`’Those who go down the evil path, as the Mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated,” he warned.

Francis greeted about 200 other prisoners during his visit there.

When Francis visited a hospice, a doctor there removed a bothersome wooden splinter from one of the pope’s fingers at his request, organizers said.

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