ROME (AP) — In apparent defiance of Pope Francis, a church procession detoured from its route through a southern Italian town to honor a convicted mobster under house arrest.
Interior Minister Angelino ALfano on Sunday denounced the tribute in Oppido Mamertina, a Calabrian town and ‘ndrangheta crime syndicate stronghold, as ‘‘deplorable and disgusting.’’ He praised three Carabinieri policemen who abandoned the procession in disapproval.
On June 21, Francis, visiting Calabria, had denounced the ‘ndrangheta for its ‘‘adoration of evil’’ and said its members were excommunicated. The July 2 procession included clergy, the mayor, families and dozens of men carrying a Madonna statue on their shoulders.
Calabria’s anti-Mafia prosecutor, Nicola Gratteri, told The Associated Press that the detour to the mobster’s house appeared to be a ‘‘challenge to the diktat’’ of Francis.