Italian Mafia's New Target: Pope Francis?

Mobsters 'nervous and agitated' by pontiff's anti-corruption stance, prosecutor says

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 14, 2013 7:04 AM CST

(Newser) – Pope Francis' anti-corruption stance could put him at risk from "the most dangerous, most unified, and most difficult to penetrate" mafia clan in Italy, an Italian prosecutor tells the Washington Post. As "Pope Francis is dismantling centers of economic power in the Vatican," mobsters are "nervous and agitated" that their dealings with corrupt bishops could come to an end, says prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, who's battled the 'Ndrangheta mob clan, told an Italian daily, per the Guardian. "I don't know if organized crime is in a position to do something, but certainly they are thinking about it."

Gratteri continued: "'Ndrangheta and the church walk hand in hand ... The mafia that invests, that launders money, that therefore has the real power, is the mafia which has got rich for years" off of its alliance with the church. But after a fiery speech against corruption earlier this week and several pope-backed reforms in the Vatican, "it could be dangerous," said Gratteri. Even though about 88% of jailed mobsters are religious, and a 'Ndrangheta mobster often prays before killing, "they wouldn't hesitate" to "trip him up," Gratteri said.

In this Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 file photo, Pope Francis leaves after an audience with families in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
In this Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 file photo, Pope Francis leaves after an audience with families in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)
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