Pope Francis has told the Vatican commission to work on a new process for excommunicating Catholics convicted of corruption or mafia-related crimes, the Christian Today website reports.
The move against the mafia marks a step change in Vatican policy, in which involvement in organized crime becomes literally unpardonable because it is a way of life rather than a single sin.
Excommunicated Catholics cannot take communion or be married in church.
Organized crime is entrenched in Italy and in several South American countries. Francis has been severely critical of the closeness of the Church to mafia figures, which sees children named after mobster godfathers and religious processions stopping outside the homes of mob bosses as a form of respect.