29 June 2014

The Mob is Not in Communication with the Church

Anyone who has watched any kind of movie about the mafia has seen its members being portrayed as Catholic. There's the occasional Jewish guy, ala Meyer Lansky, and maybe a greedy WASP banker or two, but everyone else is Catholic. However, Pope Francis ain't having it:
"Those who in their lives follow this path of evil, as mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated."
Now, before everybody goes as nuts as the various newspapers did, that's not a mass excommunication, it's just a recognition of a status situation. If you are actively involved on evil you are not engaged in behavior conducive to a relationship with a Church working to effect God's will on Earth. 

The Pope was visiting a family in a heavily mafia influenced area which had lost a child and grandfather in a shooting. His comments were off script, but consistent with his prior indications in this area. He's not the originator of this position . JPII set out the same position back in the 90's.

This is all consistent with the general theme that seems to be developing in Francis' papacy.   There is a deep and abiding concern for the poor and oppressed, a clear assignment of error and sin to those who exist, or would do so, in a manner parasitical upon those people, and an unwillingness to merely allow wrongs in this area to proceed because to do so would be easier. Hence the last weekend's refutation of both the legalization of drugs and the mafia.

Perhaps the most interesting speculation concerning the Pope's words has been that this was less a message to members of the mafia and more a message to local priests and bishops. The thought is that priests out in the community have at the very least turned a blind eye to the activities of mafia members. The theory is that the Pope is pushing them to take more proactive stands against the mafia in their communities.

That puts priests in a difficult position. It puts their role as Converter, welcoming people into the arms of Christ in the belief and hope that all can be saved, in conflict with their role as Steward, charged with leading believers in the proper direction toward God and setting limits beyond which one cannot travel and remain in the fold. The latter is the more difficult role and the one to which Francis is pushing them. 

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