CASSANO ALL'JONIO, Italy (AP) - Pope Francis has traveled to the heart of Italy's biggest crime syndicate and declared that all mobsters are automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
At an outdoor Mass in Calabria, Francis denounced the syndicate for what he called its "adoration of evil and contempt for the common good."
The pope said, "Those who go down the evil path, as the Mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated."
Calabria is the power base of a global drug trafficking syndicate that also enriches itself through extortion of local businesses and infiltration of public works contracts.
Francis also visited with the imprisoned father of a 3-year-old boy who was killed in the region's drug war, and spoke to about 200 other inmates.
The pope had lunch with poor people and drug addicts in a rehabilitation facility and visited with residents at a hospice. While he was there he asked one of the doctors to remove a bothersome wooden splinter from his finger.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)