Priests continuously visit the houses of bosses for coffee

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.



  1. says

    Like the scene near the end of the Godfather: the boss participating in the baptismal Mass for his son, inter-cut with his henchmen out slaughtering his enemies.

  2. Al Dente says

    The Vatican’s bank, the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR), is notorious for laundering mafia money. Pope Frankie might want to deal with the IOR before he starts smacking kneecaps or fitting people with millstones.

  3. says

    @Eamon Knight: Actually, it was for his nephew (hence “Godfather”). And it gave the maximum contrast of Michael Corleone reciting the baptismal promises to renounce all evil while ordering a massacre. As you say, disturbingly true-to-life.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    That first mention of “‘Ndrangheta” made me think some story out of Africa had accidentally gotten pasted into this one, but a quick search shows that is the name of the southern-Italian-mainland mafia:

    … the Pontiff’s crackdown on financial corruption in the Vatican, has angered bosses in the brutal crime syndicate, which is thought to rule Europe’s cocaine trade. … as part of Francis’s efforts to crack down on graft, the IoR has been highlighted with news that the troubled institution is seeking to close 900 suspicious accounts. ¶ According to Corriere della Sera newspaper, four of the suspect accounts are linked to the Vatican embassies of Indonesia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. …

    At least Francis has already outlasted John Paul I…

  5. Robert B. says

    To be fair to the Pope, you can’t really present a biblical argument against crime without making gruesome death threats.

    @7: Well, for one thing, mobsters are sometimes prosecuted for tax evasion.

  6. sailor1031 says

    That bit about a millstone round the neck and a swim was, as I recall, Yeshue’s prescription for those who harmed little children not for corrupt mobsters. As for the clergy cosying up to the family bosses – birds of a feather!

  7. says

    A bishop in Locri in Calabria had excommunicated mobsters after they damaged fruit trees owned by the church

    If the fruit we’re talking about is figs, what’s the problem? The mobsters just asked themselves: What would Jesus do?

  8. Pieter B, FCD says

    Mostly I see banner ads for the Mormons on FTB (when I even notice them). This post brought up one offering to let me look up public arrest records.

  9. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    Can somebody please explain where the difference is between the two organisations?

    With the Mob, if you don’t do as you’re told, the Boss will fuck you up in THIS life. All other differences are trivial and stem directly from this single fundamental variation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *