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Monday, January 23, 2017

Working to combat

At 11:45am today, in the Consistory Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the members of the National Anti-mafia and Anti-terrorism Directorate.

Following the greetings offered by Doctor Franco Roberti, National Anti-mafia and Anti-terrorism Procurator, the Pope offered the following words to those who were present:

Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the audience with National Directors
of Anti-mafia and Anti-terrorism efforts

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you who represent the National Directors of Anti-mafia and Anti-terrorism efforts.  I cordially greet and thank Doctor Franco Roberti for his words.

The duties entrusted to you by the State concern the prosecution of offences committed by three large criminal organizations: mafia, camorra and ndrangheta.  Exploiting economic, social and political deficiencies, they find fertile ground for the execution of their deplorable efforts. Among your competences, there is also a fight against terrorism, which is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan and devastating.  I wish to express my appreciation and my encouragement of your activities, which are difficult and risky, but more essential than ever for overcoming and freeing those who are caught in the power of such criminal organizations, which are responsible for so much violence and oppression, stained with human blood.

Society must be healed of corruption, extortion, illegal trafficking of drugs and arms, human trafficking, including that of many children, who are thus enslaved.  These are authentic social wounds and, at the same time, global challenges which the international community is called to face with determination.  In this perspective, I have learned that your law enforcement activities are appropriately carried out in collaboration with colleagues from other States.  Such work, achieved in collaboration and with effective means, provides an effective cushion of security for the community.

Society relies heavily upon your professionalism and your experience of prosecutors engages in combatting and eradicating organized crime.  I urge you to devote every effort especially to fighting against the trafficking of persons and the smuggling of migrants: these are serious crimes that involve the weakest of the weak!  In this regard, we need to increase our efforts in caring for these victims, providing legal and social assistance to these brothers and sisters of ours who seek peace and a future.  Those who must flee their own countries because of war, violence and persecution have a right to find adequate welcome and suitable protection in the countries that call themselves civil.

To complement and to reinforce your precious work of repression, we need widespread educational interventions, offered especially to younger generations.  For this reason, various educational agencies, including families, schools, Christian communities, sports and cultural groups, are called to promote a knowledge of morality and legality aimed at modelling a lifestyle that is honest, peaceful and united; little by little, these efforts can overcome evil and pave the way toward good.  It's a matter of beginning with conscience, restoring intentions, choices, and individual attitudes so that the social fabric can be opened to hope for a better world.

The mafia phenomenon, an expression of a culture of death, is based on opposition and fighting.  It is radically opposed to faith and to the gospel, which are always aimed at life.  When we follow Christ, we are filled with thoughts of peace and fraternity, justice, welcome and forgiveness.  When the sap of the gospel flows in the disciple of Christ, good fruit ripens, fruit that is recognizable even on the outside, with corresponding comportment, which the apostle Paul identifies with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self control (Gal 5:22).

I think of the many Catholic parishes and associations which are witnesses of these fruits.  They play a commendable role in their surroundings, focused on promoting people, culture and society, and gradually working at pulling the weeds from the roots of organized crime and corruption.  In these initiatives, we can also see the closeness of the Church to those who live in dramatic situations and who need help in order to escape the spiral of violence and to realize the rebirth of hope.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord always provide for you the strength to carry on, to not become discouraged, but to continue fighting against corruption, violence, the mafia and terrorism.  I know that the work you are doing also poses risks to your lives, this I know; and the risk of other hazards to you and your families.  The mafia's way of acting causes such concern.  For this reason, you require additional passion, a sense of duty and strength of soul, and also, on our part, on the part of all citizens who benefit from your work, additional support, prayer and closeness.  I assure you that we are very close to you as you work, and we are praying for you.

At the same time, may the just and merciful Lord touch the hearts of men and women of various mafias, that they might stop, cease doing evil, be converted and change their lives.  Money derived from dirty business and mafia activity is blood money and it produces power unfairly.  We all know that the devil enters through the pockets; that's where the first corruption can be found.

Upon you, your families and your work, I invoke the support of the Lord.  I repeat: I am very close to you.  And I also ask you to pray for me; with all my heart, I impart my blessing.

May the Lord bless all of you and your families.

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