Pope Francis -- in an annual ceremony held to remember the thousands of innocent people murdered by the Italian mafia -- made a solemn plea for mobsters to change or else "end up in hell," the Reuters website reports today (March 22, 2014).
The mafia continues to plague Sicily and southern Italy: just this week, a 4-year-old boy was shot dead, along with his mother and her boyfriend, near the southern city of Taranto in a suspected mob hit.
At the end of an emotional ceremony in Rome in which the relatives of those murdered read the names of about 900 innocent mafia victims, the pope said the mafia "has no pity even for a child."
"You have power and money now from much dirty business and many mafia crimes. It is blood money and blood power, and you can't take it with you to the afterlife," Francis said in a Rome parish church packed with some 900 relatives -- many of whom held pictures of their slain
The pope added, "Stop doing evil... There's still time to stay out of hell. That's what's waiting for you if you stay on this path."