The Vatican is exploring the idea of excommunicating Catholics convicted of corruption or mafia-type crimes.
Pope Francis ordered a commission to draw up a new doctrine banning offenders from the sacraments or communion.
It came after more than 50 prosecutors, bishops, United Nations representatives and victims of organized crime congregated for a Vatican conference to discuss the Church’s new legal doctrine concerning “the question of excommunication for corruption and mafia association”.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s retired ambassador to the UN in Geneva was one of the conference participants. He said: “Our effort is to create a mentality; a culture of justice that fights corruption and promotes the common good.”
The proposed ban has not been welcomed universally, with some complaining excommunication for extortion or paying bribes is a step too far.
Ex-senator Sergio De Gregorio told Italian newspaper La Repubblica: “I think the Vatican should judge case by case. I confessed to my guilt and I don’t think I should be excommunicated.”
But Monsignor Michele Pennisi, archbishop of Monreale in Sicily, said: “The (expert) group raised the problems of Colomian and Mexican drug traffickers, so we need a penal decree, a form of legal act at the national and global level.”