Pope Francis greets the Pontifical International Marian Academy Pope Francis greets the Pontifical International Marian Academy 

Pope: Resist fear spread by organized crime with healthy, hopeful roots

Pope Francis stresses the importance of protecting the weak and promoting legality in society, during an audience with members of the Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate and the Pontifical International Marian Academy.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

“I am pleased to meet you today and to share, together with all those who are part of the institutions you represent and your families, the 30th anniversary of your work in the service of the people,” said Pope Francis as he greeted the members of the Pontifical International Marian Academy and the Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate (DIA) while receiving them in audience on Thursday in the Vatican.

In his prepared remarks, the Pope said fraternal coexistence and social friendship are possible where there are “houses” that implement the “pact between generations” by “preserving the healthy roots of those who have believed and believe in the beauty of being together that develops in dialogue, kindness and support for justice for all.”

It is thanks to these “houses”, Pope Francis insisted, that it is possible to build “a large family open to the common good, living up to the spread of a culture of legality, respect and safety of people and the environment.”

Do not let fear win

Pope Francis acknowledged the active engagement of the DIA in the building of “houses” which act as “mild and strong antibodies to partisan interests, corruption, greed, and violence, which are the DNA of mafia and criminal organizations.”

“Mafias win when fear takes over life,” said the Pope, adding that this is why “they take over the mind and heart, stripping people of their dignity and freedom from within.”

To counter this, he encouraged the DIA to work “so that fear cannot win”, as it is “a support for change, a glimmer of light in the midst of darkness, and a witness to freedom.”

“I encourage you to continue on that path,” he urged. “Be strong and bring hope, especially among the weakest.”

Least and fragile are most affected

When security and legality are lacking, the first to be harmed are the most fragile and all those who in various ways can be called last, said the Pope.

He said the weak are preyed upon to be made the “modern slaves on which mafia economies are built” and the “refuse” the mafia need to “pollute social life and the environment itself.”

In the face of this, the Pope stressed the importance of standing next to the victims of bullying by trying to prevent and oppose crime.

“We must also resist Mafia cultural colonialism through research, study and formative activities aimed at attesting that civil, social and environmental progress springs not from corruption and privilege, but rather from justice, freedom, honesty and solidarity.”


Highlighting that their “delicate and risky work” deserves to be appreciated and supported, Pope Francis encouraged them to continue with enthusiasm despite the presence of some shadowy areas in the social and ecclesial fabric where it is “difficult to perceive the clear distancing from old, erroneous and even immoral ways of acting.”

“Everyone at every level should decisively embark on the path of justice and honesty,” the Pope stressed.

And where there has been connivance and opacity, “it is necessary to study the causes, leaving the right space for a healthy "shame," without which change is not possible, and mutual cooperation for the common good remains a chimera.”


The Holy Father went on to express a word of gratitude to them, thanking the institutions for “who you are and what you do.”

“Do not tire of standing beside the people with tenderness and compassion; make yourselves ever more promoters of this love for the people, for their lives and for their future, which represents the synthesis of your own ideals,” the Pope said.

He added that “this love is capable of generating new relationships and giving birth to a more just order through 'houses' and 'families' enlivened by the ferment of equality, justice and fraternity.”

Concluding, Pope Francis entrusted those present to the protection of Our Lady, asking her to guide the institutions in this “meaningful mission” and invoked a blessing upon them and their families.

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23 June 2022, 12:44