The Guardian reports that the pope is tackling the mafia. Good on him if so, although he shouldn’t utter biblical death threats in the process.
In a fiery sermon on Monday, Francis railed against corruption and quoted the bible’s advice that practitioners be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck.
Yeah don’t do that.
But the article gives an interesting picture of the friendship between church and mafia.
“The mafia that invests, that launders money, that therefore has the real power, is the mafia which has got rich for years from its connivance with the church,” said [magistrate Nicola] Gratteri. “These are the people who are getting nervous.”
Gratteri attacked priests and bishops in southern Italy who legitimise mobsters. “Priests continuously visit the houses of bosses for coffee, which gives the bosses strength and popular legitimacy,” he said. A bishop in Locri in Calabria had excommunicated mobsters after they damaged fruit trees owned by the church, he said. “But before that episode, the bosses had killed thousands of people” without being sanctioned, he added.
So much for Catholicism inspiring people to be good.
Boosting the strong links between mob and church is the fierce religious devotion of the gangsters themselves, he said, adding that in his 26 years as a magistrate he had never raided a mafia hideout which did not contain a religious image. “There is no affiliation rite that does not evoke religion. ‘Ndrangheta and the church walk hand in hand,” he said.
A survey of jailed mobsters had revealed that 88% were religious, he added. “Before killing, a member of the ‘Ndrangheta prays. He asks the Madonna for protection.”
Cognitive dissonance at work.
Gratteri said mobsters did not consider themselves wrongdoers, and used the example of a mafioso putting pressure on a business owner to pay protection money, first by shooting up his premises, then by kneecapping him. “If the person still refuses, the mobster is ‘forced’ to kill him. If you have no choice, you are not committing a sin.”
That’s often the reasoning in domestic violence, too – she (or he) provoked the violence. The perp had no choice, because of the provocation. And of course many of the child-raping priests and the bishops who shield them claim the raped children were seductive. There’s always a way to make the cognitive dissonance disappear.