Jun 222014

“Those who in their life have gone along the evil ways, as in the case of the mafia, they are not with God, they are excommunicated.” – Pope Francis

Well, that’s certainly a thing.

This seemed to me like a strange thing to do when I first read about it this morning, and as I’ve ruminated it’s only gotten more so.

For one thing, the proclamation seems of rather limited persuasive value. Mostly, you leave the mob when you die, whether you want that to be the case or not. And are there a great many people considering association with organized crime who will now stop and say “wait a minute, do I want to be excommunicated?”

More importantly, though, this will make some dangerous people unhappy. These businesses are conducted with extensive codes of honor. Further, however warped it may look from the outside, many of these people seem to have resolved their lines of work as consistent with their faith. Whether it’s genuinely settled or not, they’ve settled it with themselves, and they are likely to value said settlement highly.

Where is the upside of stoking potentially significant dissonance in people with guns who are capable of this rationalization?

I like Pope Francis. I hope he stays safe.

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 Posted by at 2:58 pm

  8 Responses to “Excommunicating the mob”

  1. Oh, gosh. Combining that last line with his recent comments about not using the armored pope-mobile — you don’t think he *wants* to be martyred?

    • I don’t think he wants to be martyred. I don’t think a blanket excommunication of the mob was very well thought out, though.

  2. I’m not caught up on the story yet, but news outlets are reporting excommunciation as complete cutoff from the church, but that is not what it means. In the modern church it means you can’t receive communion, and is an invitation to return, fully, to the church. Acting upon that invitation is usually done in the confessional, so it’s pretty hard to make much sense out of a blanket “excommunication.” I don’t pretend to fully understand what Pope Francis is doing here.

    • OK, well I’ve got that wrong, then. I thought excommunication was you’re fired. You’re deCatholicized.

      Even under the correct definition, it seems to me to be a needlessly provocative thing to do.

  3. Even in the “olden days” there were multiple forms of Excommunication.

  4. When it’s the right thing to do, you don’t (or you shouldn’t) look at the upside and the downside. You just do the right thing.

    • But what good has been accomplished? Has it ever been a question among reasonable people whether the church approves of organized crime?

  5. Apparently, the members of the mafia have allowed themselves the warm fuzzies lo these many years. I think the Pope calling them on it is a good thing.

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