Pope Francis castigated the Italian Mafia in his sermon on Wednesday at the St. Peter's Square and said they are not Christians. Many members of the organized crime families regularly visit the Church to worship but the pope labeled them as "fake Christians" because their lives are actually corrupted.
The pontiff's homily centered on churchgoers who are not exactly living up to Jesus Christ's teachings despite professing they follow Him. Though Pope Francis said everyone is a sinner and seeks forgiveness, the fake Christians continue to live in sin despite asking redemption from Jesus.
"We don't have to go far, let's think about what happens right here at home (Italy)," the pope said and openly called out the Mafia. "They have nothing at all in them that is Christian. They call themselves Christians but they carry death in their souls and inflict it on others," he went on to say.
Pope Francis has called out the Mafia frequently in his five years as the leader of the Catholic Church. In 2014, the pontiff told an Italian newspaper that members of the mob should be excommunicated from the Church because of what they do. He also chastised priests who disregard their behavior.
"The power, the money you have now from so many dirty deals, from so many mafia crimes, blood-stained money, blood-stained power; you will not be able to take that with you to the other life," the pope said.
Pope Francis also made a plea to the Mafia in his homily. He wants them to stop their evil ways and save themselves from eternal condemnation in hell.
Prominent Italian Mafia groups, such as the Cosa Nostra in Sicily and the Ndrangheta in Calabria, are staunchly religious and follow cult-like traditions. Aside from attending regular services and worships, they also participate and influence various sacraments and activities of the Church.
When a mafia boss in Calabria became ill, a procession for the Madonna statue diverted to his home. The procession lingered at the front of his house for a few minutes and the locals even tilted the statue to show its respect for the mafia boss.