Pope Francis To Mafia: Stop Using Virgin Mary Imagery

The Associated Press reports:

Pope Francis is giving his blessing to a new Vatican think tank that is seeking to prevent the Mafia and organized crime groups from exploiting the image of the Virgin Mary for their own illicit ends.

The Vatican’s Pontifical Marian Academy launched the think tank Friday at a conference titled “Liberating Mary from the Mafia.” It was a reference to the historic relationship between the Italian mob and the Catholic Church, and the popular displays of Marian devotion by mobsters in Italy and beyond.

In a message from the pope read out at the start of the conference, held at Rome’s Museum of Civilizations, Francis said the religious and cultural image and patrimony of the Madonna “must be preserved in its original purity.”