The popular leader of the Roman Catholic Church in an historic message on Friday warned members of the Sicilian Mafia that if they do not repent of their sins — including their murders — they will “end up in hell” for all eternity, according to Vatican Radio.
Pope Francis called members of the Mafia in Italy and throughout the world to change their ways following a Catholic prayer service at a parish church in Rome, Italy. During the service he personally addressed the mobsters.
The prayer service was held for the families and friends of victims murdered by Mafia members through the years. During the prayer vigil Pope Francis had the names of almost 850 Italians read aloud who had been killed by organized crime members or associates.
The church was packed with almost 1,000 people who came to memorialize the deceased relatives.
“Blood-stained money, blood-stained power, you can’t bring it with you to your next life. Repent,” he said. “There is still time to avoid ending up in hell, which is where you are going if you continue down this path.”
Pope Francis’ attended the church service and uttered his message when he heard the news that two-year-old Domenico Petruzzelli, was killed along with his mother in a hail of gunfire in southern Taranto. The shooters were believed to be members of the Mafia.
Organized crime gangs continue to run the economies in a number of locations in Italy, such as Calabria, Sicily and its tentacles even reach into Rome itself.
According to Pope Francis, a number of heroic priests have gone toe-to-toe with Mafia bosses on behalf of their Christian flock, only to be murdered or assaulted for their efforts to protect their parishioners and maintain peace.