In Naples, Pope Francis encourages young to resist the Mafia

On a day trip to Naples, where youth unemployment is rampant, Pope Francis encouraged Neapolitans to resist exploitation by the Mafia and instead seek honest jobs.

Pope Francis, visiting Italy's impoverished south on Saturday, encouraged Neapolitans to resist exploitation by Mafia dons and instead seek the dignity of honest jobs.

On a day trip to Naples, Francis spoke to residents in Scampia, a rundown neighborhood dominated by Camorra mobsters.

In places like Scampia, youth unemployment is rampant. Many wind up working for the Naples-based crime syndicate as drug couriers or extortionists, shaking down merchants for so-called "protection money."

The worst problem is "not having the possibility to bring home the bread, to earn it" with dignity, Francis said.

He cited the widespread use of black market jobs in a city like Naples, where many work in clandestine garment factories or sell bootleg cigarettes or counterfeit electronic goods on the street.

But Francis also denounced the exploitation in legal jobs that require long hours for low pay. He told Neapolitans he heard about a young woman who was offered a job in the tourism sector paying 600 euros ($650) monthly for 11-hour days.

"'If you don't like it, look at the line of people who are waiting for work,'" Francis said was a common employers' attitude. "This is called slavery, this is called exploitation."

Scampia residents cheered his speech.

Later, in his homily in Naples' main square, Francis urged tens of thousands of people to hold on to hope and resist the "easy earnings or dishonest income" of drug trafficking. He called on Mafiosi and their accomplices to abandon their criminal ways.

Francis spent lunchtime at the Poggioreale prison, dining with some of the inmates in a large room normally used as a chapel, the Vatican said. Their time together was private, but Italian media reported the inmates prepared a simple pasta meal and a group of transsexuals were among the group.

Neapolitan spirits might have well gotten a boost when, in the cathedral, Francis kissed a vial containing the blood of the city's patron saint, Januarius, known to Italians as San Gennaro, and the bishop said the blood partially liquefied. Popular tradition holds that if the blood liquefies prosperity will come to Naples.

Neapolitans recalled that the blood didn't dissolve during visits by the previous two popes, Benedict XVI and John Paul II.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.