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Published: Saturday, 6/21/2014

Pope Francis makes prison his first stop in Italy's south, where mobsters often command


CASSANO ALL’JONIO, Italy — Pope Francis has visited a prison in Calabria, a region infested by organized crime, on a day trip to Italy’s underdeveloped south.

Arriving today morning by helicopter from Rome, Francis spoke to 200 inmates in Castrovillari. Calabria is the power base of the ‘ndrangheta, a crime syndicate that is a global drug trafficker.

Then he headed to Cassano all’Jonio, where a 3-year-old boy in January was shot to death in a car that was then torched. Soon after the attack, blamed on drug turf wars, Francis expressed horror and promised to visit the town.

The Vatican said Francis, who has put those on the edges of society at the heart of his papacy, was lunching with poor people and drug addicts in a rehabilitation facility.

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