Pope visits southern Italian stronghold of Mafiosi who poisoned farmlands, calls for courage



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CASERTA, Italy — 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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