The Pope is the latest in a long line of Catholics to speak out about their faith’s connection to the mafia and its use of violence against its members.
On Monday, Pope Francis warned against “the use of the mafia to control the destiny of the human person” and the Vatican’s “extremist groups.”
The Pope also warned that “violence against the Church is an act of war, against the human being, against all humanity, against humanity’s common destiny.”
Francis, speaking at the opening of the Vatican Council, was speaking about the role of “the mafia” in the Catholic Church.
The mafia, or “mafia,” is a term used by Pope Francis to describe the mafia-like organization of organized crime that has become a fixture of Italian society.
Francis has previously made similar comments in a speech at a conference in 2013 in which he described the mafia as “an institution that has come to power and a criminal enterprise.”
“It’s not a problem of the Mafia; it’s a problem for the mafia,” Francis said at the time.
Francises comments were echoed by Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi on Monday, saying that “in our view, the mafia is not a crime syndicate but a business, a family, a group that has always been involved in the life of society.”
“The mafia is a mafia; it is a crime organization that has been in power since the beginning of the 20th century, and it has always had to operate under the conditions that it has been allowed to have,” Lombardi said.
Pope Francis’ comments came in the wake of a string of high-profile killings of suspected mafia members in Rome, including a former Mafia boss who was killed by Italian police in 2017.
The Pope’s comments came on the same day that the Vatican announced that it would suspend operations in a number of Italian cities following the killing of three young boys by police officers in Turin.
The four-year-old boy, who had not been formally identified, was shot dead after police opened fire on a mob in Turino.
The killings, which followed the death of two other children in Rome last year, have fueled concerns about the state of the Italian police force, which has come under fire for a lack of transparency in its investigations.
In a video posted by the Vatican, the Pope, flanked by three other cardinals, urged police to treat children “with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
“If we don’t, it will be too late for us to prevent more tragedies like these,” the Pope said.
The pontiff’s comments come as Rome prepares to host the International Day of Families and Children on June 1, during which he has said he is praying for “the children who are being deprived of their families, their families who are going to be destroyed, their family members who are not being treated like human beings.”
The pontiffs comments came just hours after the Vatican issued a statement on the death toll in the Italian city of Turin and urged all “family members and loved ones” to visit the local hospital, where a child’s body was found.