According to a report in Britain’s Telegraph , Bishop Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini of the Calabrian Diocese of Locri-Gerace has written an open letter to the bosses of the ’Ndrangheta—the Calabrian Mafia—“imploring them to stop using holy shrines for their initiation ceremonies.” The bishop, says the Telegraph , decided to speak out “after more than 300 alleged mobsters—including the 80-year-old ‘Godfather’ Domenico Oppedisano—were arrested in a police blitz earlier this month.” The Telegraph article is accompanied by a screen capture from an Italian police surveillance film showing Oppedisano “being ‘sworn in’ under a statue of the Virgin Mary at Polsi near Reggio Calabria.”

In his letter the bishop states, “We have seen images of your illegal gatherings and divisions of power at the shrine to the Madonna at Polsi” and goes on to note that “We had always thought that these meetings at holy shrines were folklore but now we have had to re-think.” Interestingly, entries about the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Polsi in both the English and Italian versions of Wikipedia speak of the shrine’s longtime ’Ndrangheta associations; the English-language page even observes that as early as 1903 there were Carabinieri reports of “meetings between several criminal societies at the shrine.”

In any case, the bishop ends his letter to the Mafia bosses by reminding them that the Church is “always willing to welcome you with open arms because it is the only institution that believes in the possibility of your conversion.”

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