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Pope to Mafia: Stop the Violence or Go to Hell

Pope Francis delivered a strong message to organized crime at a vigil for victims of violence in Rome.
Image: Pope arrives to a prayer vigil for mafia victims
A believer reaches out to touch Pope Francis at the end of a prayer vigil for victims of Mafia violence at the Gregorio VII's Church in Rome.CLAUDIO PERI / EPA

Pope Francis delivered a fire-and-brimstone message to the Mafia on Friday: "Repent."

"Blood-stained money, blood-stained power — you can't bring it with you to your next life," the pontiff said during a prayer vigil in Rome for victims of mob violence.

"There's still time to not end up in Hell, which is what awaits you if you continue on this path."

The pope was speaking at an annual remembrance for innocents killed by the Mafia, which is still a powerful force in southern Italy, where a 4-year-old boy was shot dead this week in a suspected organized crime hit.

Francis noted that the Mafia "has no pity — even for a child."

—Tracy Connor

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.