Blessed Rosario Livatino of Sicily was beatified on May 9.  He was killed by the mafia in 1990.

The Vatican has started formal proceedings to excommunicate all members of the mafia.

On May 9, the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development created a working group to deal with the excommunication of members of the mafia.

The creation of the working group coincided with the beatification in Agrigento, Sicily of Rosario Livatino, a Sicilian judge killed by the Mafia in 1990. Livatino is the first beatified judge in the history of the Catholic Church.  Beatification is the first step to sainthood in the Church.

Before this, the dicastery’s first prefect, Ghanian Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson created an international global network against corruption, organized crime and mafias in August 2018.

In his encyclical Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis emphasizes how the “loneliness, fears and insecurity of so many people, who feel abandoned by the system, mean that a fertile ground for mafias is being created.”

The pope recalls how organized-crime outfits impose themselves by presenting themselves as “protectors” of the forgotten “while pursuing their criminal interests”. The statement is the most recent papal magisterium on the issue of organized crime.

According to the Vatican’s news service, the group on the “excommunication of the mafias” was created to “give pastoral substance to those words pronounced by Pope Francis, and to ensure that the universality of the Church can respond to the worldliness of the mafias by clarifying that belonging to them is irreconcilable with the Gospel.”

In March 2014, the pope warned members of the mafia to convert while they still have time or “end up in hell”

“Convert. You still have time to avoid ending up in hell. That is what awaits you if you continue on this path,” he said to families of victims of the mafia in March 2014.

In his homily at Mass on 21 June 2014, he described Calabria region’s ‘Ndrangheta” crime syndicate as “worship of evil and contempt for the common good”.  He added that the mafiosi “are not in communion with God: they are excommunicated.”

Francis’ predecessors also issued statements vehemently denouncing organized crime. Pope Saint John Paul II made a vibrant historic appeal for the conversion of the mafiosi in the Valley of the Temples in southern Italy’s Agrigento city in Sicily in May 1993.

“In the name of Christ crucified and risen, of this Christ who is Way, Truth and Life, I address those responsible: ‘Convert!’ One day God’s judgment will come,” he said.

His immediate successor, Pope Benedict XVI, defined the mafia as a “road of death” during his visit to Palermo in 2010. “Do not yield to the suggestions of the Mafia, which is a way of death. It is incompatible with the Gospel, as your bishops have so often told you,” he said.  – Rommel F. Lopez