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Pope goes to stronghold of Naples-area mobsters

Saturday - 7/26/2014, 7:02pm  ET

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a mass in Caserta, Italy, Saturday, July 26, 2014. Pope Francis will remain in Caserta for a few hours, but will be back here for a private visit on Monday. The banner in Italian reads "United against Camorra". (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

CASERTA, Italy (AP) -- Pope Francis has traveled to a southern Italian stronghold of a clan of mobsters who poisoned local farmlands by dumping illicitly trafficked toxic waste.

Francis made a late-afternoon visit Saturday to Caserta, the main town in the turf of the Casalesi crime clan of the Naples-area Camorra syndicate. During his homily outside the 18th-century Reggia palace, Caserta's main tourist attraction, Francis drew applause when he urged his flock to have "the courage to say no to every form of corruption and lawlessness."

"Against the Camorra," read a banner in the crowd.

His reference to mobsters was apparent when he denounced "evil, violence and sheer abuse of power."

Last month, in Calabria, another southern region plagued by organized crime, Francis said mobsters were excommunicated for their "adoration of evil."


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