Pope Francis Encourages Brave Women Who Left Mafia Life

Published: 02 November 2023

Pope Francis BlessingPope Francis blessed women who dared to turn their back to mafia. (Photo: Catholic Church England and Wales, Flickr, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Pope Francis blessed on Monday the decision of a group of Italian women to leave their mafia families and assured them during a meeting on Monday that they are not alone.

"Dear ladies, you were born and raised in environments tainted by mafia criminality, and you chose to leave that behind,” the head of the Catholic Church said. “I bless your decision, and I urge you to continue on this path," he said during the audience at the Vatican.

Father Luigi Ciotti, who accompanied the women, said that it was an emotional encounter, filled with gratitude. The women pleaded for help in escaping the claws of the mafia, as reported by the Libera association.

Ciotti, an Italian priest who founded Libera in 1995 to combat the criminal organization's atrocities in Italy and worldwide, stressed that the women were mothers who at some point looked at their children, both sons and daughters, and realized that they cannot accept the idea of them becoming pawns in a world of power, violence, and prison.

"The mafias have 'confiscated' their lives," Ciotti said and added that these courageous women have rebelled against the norms and that they said "enough!" even though they knew that their resistance often came at a high cost, sometimes even with the cost of their lives.

Libera, under Ciotti's leadership, is a network of associations, social cooperatives, movements, groups, schools, unions, dioceses, parishes, and scout organizations committed to combating not only mafias, corruption, and crime but also those who support them.

Pope Francis assured the women that he would pray for them and their loved ones, particularly their children.