Pope Urges Fight Against Mafia That Profits From the Pandemic
Pope Francis called on Sunday for a fight against global organized crime after Interpol issued an alert warning that criminal networks targeted COVID-19 vaccines.
The Paris-based Interpol police co-ordination issued a global alert warning that organized criminal networks were targeting COVID-19 vaccines. In March, South African police seized hundreds of fake vaccines and arrested four suspects.
Mafias are present in various part of the world and, taking advantage of the pandemic, they are enriching themselves through corruption, Francis said, speaking at his Sunday noon address on the day Italy remembers victims of organized crime.
Italian police say crime clans are using the pandemic to buy favor with poor families facing financial ruin, offering loans and food. Mob loan sharks demanding exorbitant interest rates are bailing out businesses hit by the pandemic, police say.
These structures of sin, mafia structures, are against the gospel and mistake idolatry for faith, the pope added.
In Italy, many members of organized crime see themselves as part of a religious, cult-like group, invoking the help of saints and using religious figurines or statues in initiation rites.
The southern town of Oppido Mamertina made headlines in 2014 when locals carrying a statue of the Madonna diverted the route of a procession to pause at the home of a mob boss and tilted the statue slightly as if to kneel in a sign of respect.
Today, let us remember all the victims and renew our commitment against mafias, Francis said.