Monsignor Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, the archbishop of Reggio Calabria, has proposed a 10-year ban on naming godparents at baptisms and confirmations as a way to stop Mafia infiltration. Luca Minici, Wikimedia Commons

Italian archbishop calls for 10-year ban on godparents to stop Mafia infiltration

By  Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service
  • July 3, 2014

ROME - After a pledge by Pope Francis to “excommunicate” mobsters from the Catholic Church, an archbishop in southern Italy has proposed a 10-year ban on naming godparents at baptisms and confirmations as a way to stop the Mafia from spreading its influence.

Monsignor Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, the archbishop of Reggio Calabria, wrote to Francis some time ago with his suggestion “to prevent the exploitation of the church,” in particular by the powerful Calabrian Mafia known as ’Ndrangheta, and discussed his proposal with the pope at the Vatican last weekend.

Mobsters taking part in the baptisms of newborns as a godfather, or “padrino,” help the mob establish a special bond with future generations of potential criminals.

“The decision to suspend Mafia godfathers is a strong decision,” Morosini told the Italian daily, La Repubblica.

Morosini said the proposal had occurred to him two years ago when he was bishop of Locri, a Mafia stronghold.

He said when he put it to the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments his proposal was rejected.

But now that the pope has signaled a fresh approach to challenging Italy’s organized crime groups and has said their members are excommunicated, Morosini is more confident of a way forward. He said the pope was open to his idea and had asked bishops in Calabria to discuss it further.

Morosini said ‘Ndrangheta was founded on family relationships that were often “broadened and strengthened” through the bosses’ access to sacraments such as baptism and confirmation.

“The measure I requested aims to stop this expansion, which from a mafia perspective, is fundamental,” he said.

In the past Italy’s organized crime groups have had a cozy relationship with the Catholic hierarchy and mobsters take their faith seriously.

In the Catholic tradition, godfathers vow to teach children the tenets of the faith in case the parents die. But in some areas of Italy and in immigrant cultures abroad, the practice is a way of extending the family unit to include others, in some cases criminals.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
Type the text presented in the image below

Support The Catholic Register

Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.