After reports surfaced last week that Pope Francis was a potential target for an Italian mafia group, the Vatican now seems to be downplaying the risk that the Pope faces. Rev. Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Vatican, said in a statement on Friday that it wasn’t as big a risk as it was made out to be, and that the Vatican was “extremely calm” about it.
“There is absolutely no reason for concern, no need to feed alarmism,” said Lombardi to reporters.
The supposed alarmism started last week when anti-mob prosecutor Nicolas Gratteri commented on the risk of violence against the Pope.
“Those who have up until now profited from the power and wealth deriving from the Church are now nervous, agitated,” claimed Gratteri. “The Pope is dismantling centres of economic power in the Vatican. I don't know if organised crime is in a position to do something, but certainly they are thinking about it. It could be dangerous. If the godfathers can trip him up, they would not hesitate to do so.”
“For many years, the Mafia has laundered money and made investments with the complicity of the church,” continued Gratteri. “But now the pope is dismantling the poles of economic power in the Vatican, and that is dangerous.”
In the past, the Catholic Church has turned a blind eye to the crimes committed by the mafia, but since Pope Francis has become leader of the church, he has been pretty outspoken against organized crime.
“I think of all the pain of men, women and even children who are exploited by many mafias,” said Pope Francis back in May. “They are forced to do work that makes them slaves, like prostitution. Behind all this slavery there are mafias.”
Still, the Vatican is trying to temper all the hype surrounding Gratteri’s claims that the Pope is at high risk for mob retaliation, maintaining that it isn’t as serious as it’s being made out to be.