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The following editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The families that make up the crime syndicates known as the Mafia may believe they're above civil law, but they got a rude awakening last week from a key spiritual leader.
During a trip to southern Italy, Pope Francis warned that those involved in "the adoration of evil" are subject to God's law even more than man's law. His rebuke was triggered by the murder of a 3-year-old child in Calabria during a mob hit targeting his grandfather.
The killing infuriated the nation.
Without naming individuals involved in organized crime, the pope excommunicated those who live a double life as pious Catholics on Sunday while engaging in murder, extortion, blackmail, human trafficking, theft and other heinous acts the rest of the week.
The pope left no wiggle room for Catholic mobsters who believe generous donations to church coffers and charities will redeem their evil deeds. It was a much-needed reiteration of basic church teaching that paying lip service to God is an abomination if one's deeds are evil.
Pope Francis isn't the first modern pontiff to confront the mob, but he is the first to excommunicate its members. It will be up to the priests giving Holy Communion to urge criminals in the pews to search their consciences.