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

  • Italy-Pope-2

    Pope Francis caresses a child as he leaves after visiting the inmates of the prison of Castrovillari, southern Italy, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Pope Francis is paying a one day visit to Castrovillari and Cassano allo Jonio, in the Calabria region of Italy. (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Italy-Pope-3

    Players of a local orchestra wait to welcome Pope Francis in front the Duomo of Cassano allo Jonio, southern Italy, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Pope Francis is paying a one day visit to Castrovillari and Cassano allo Jonio, in the Calabria region of Italy. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Italy-Pope-4

    Pope Francis talks with Nunzio Galantino, Bishop of Cassano allo Ionio, and general secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference, as he leaves after visiting the inmates of the prison of Castrovillari, southern Italy, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Pope Francis is paying a one day visit to Castrovillari and Cassano allo Jonio, in the Calabria region of Italy. (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Italy-Pope-5

    A man waits to welcome Pope Francis in front the Duomo of Cassano allo Jonio, southern Italy, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Pope Francis is paying a one day visit to Castrovillari and Cassano allo Jonio, in the Calabria region of Italy. In background, at center, is a banner of a local ice cream shop, announcing they have a new taste of ice cream dubbed "Gusto Papa" (Pope taste). (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Italy-Pope-6

    A faithful hands out some mate' tea, the typical Argentine tealike drink, to Pope Francis as he leaves after visiting the inmates of the prison of Castrovillari, southern Italy, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Pope Francis is paying a one day visit to Castrovillari and Cassano allo Jonio, in the Calabria region of Italy. (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Italy-Pope-7

    Faithful salute Pope Francis as he leaves after visiting the inmates of the prison of Castrovillari, southern Italy, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Pope Francis is paying a one day visit to Castrovillari and Cassano allo Jonio, in the Calabria region of Italy. (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Italy-Pope-8

    Players of a local orchestra wait to welcome Pope Francis in front the Duomo of Cassano allo Jonio, southern Italy, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Pope Francis is paying a one day visit to Castrovillari and Cassano allo Jonio, in the Calabria region of Italy. The banner reads "I come to ask forgiveness" referring to the naming of Cassano all' Jonio bishop Nunzio Galatino as secretary general of Italian bishops conference. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Italy-Pope-9

    Pope Francis caresses a child as he leaves after visiting the inmates of the prison of Castrovillari, southern Italy, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Pope Francis is paying a one day visit to Castrovillari and Cassano allo Jonio, in the Calabria region of Italy. (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Italy-Pope-10

    Pope Francis boards an helicopter to Cassano allo Ionio, as he leaves after visiting the inmates of the prison of Castrovillari, southern Italy, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Pope Francis is paying a one day visit to Castrovillari and Cassano allo Jonio, in the Calabria region of Italy. (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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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