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19 July 2014
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Church in Italy considers godparent ban in order to weaken mafia ties
04 July 2014 13:09 by Hannah Roberts in Rome

The Church is considering a ban on godparents at Italian christenings in a bid to curb mafia influence. 

The Archbishop of Reggio Calabria-Bova, Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, which is one of southern Italy’s mafia strongholds, has proposed a 10-year ban on naming godparents at religious ceremonies to prevent the Church being exploited.

Mob clans use baptisms and confirmations to create alliances between criminal families and the role of godfather, or "padrino," helps them forge bonds with the next generation. 

Archbishop Morosini said he initially put forward the idea two years ago but it was rejected by the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Morosini, whose diocese is a base for the Ndrangheta mafia, said he raised his proposal with Pope Francis directly following his condemnation of Mafiosi during a visit to Calabria in June, when he said mobsters were excommunicated.

Discussing it at the Vatican last weekend Francis was open to the idea, he said, and asked him to raise the idea with fellow bishops.

Archbishop Morosini told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that suspending godfathers at mafia christenings would be “a powerful decision.”

The Ndrangheta was founded on family relationships that were often "broadened and strengthened" through the bosses' access to sacraments such as baptism and confirmation, he added.

"This measure could help to stop this expansion, which from a mafia perspective, is fundamental," he said.