Mafia crooks banned as godparents in south Italy

Mafia criminals will not be able to serve as godparents at Baptisms or witnesses at Marriages in the southern Italian region of Calabria.

The bishops of region have included the ban in a new set of pastoral guidelines.

Persons convicted of Mafia-related crimes are also not permitted to carry statues in religious processions unless they have publicly repented of their deeds, the bishops added.

Calabria’s bishops met in July last year to discuss ways to cut fake religious ties used by Mafia criminals.

This came after Archbishop Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini of Reggio Calabria asked the Vatican if he could suspend for 10 years the naming of godfathers in his archdiocese.

“There are two problems,” he told Vatican Radio last year.

“There is the use of religious symbols and even a sacrament to present a ‘clean’ face to society, but there is also the concrete fact that being a godfather at a Baptism or sponsor at Confirmation forms a bond between families.”

Some families delay Baptisms of children for years to wait until the “godfather” gets out of jail.

The Calabria ban comes as Sicilian authorities removed a series of roadside billboards announcing the Baptism of a “Cosa Nostra” toddler.

The posters showed baby “Antonio” dressed in jeans and a driving cap with the message: “This marvellous creature is  . . . Cosa Nostra!”

Investigators have alleged that Antonio’s father may have links to the Sicilian Mafia, known as the Cosa Nostra or “Our Thing”.

The Baptism celebration, which was due to take place on Sunday, was going to be covered live by a local radio station and feature several popular Italian entertainers, the posters said.

Antonio’s parents cancelled the event.

The family’s lawyer, Enzo Iofrida, told La Stampa newspaper that they did not intend to show a “lack of respect for the Church or institutions”, and simply wanted to celebrate a lavish event.


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