Pope Francis strongly denounced organized crime syndicates in Italy during a Saturday Mass, saying members of the Calabrian mafia were "excommunicated from the church."

The pope made the comments during a visit to the country's southern region, which has been rocked by mob-related violence, including the killings of a priest and a child in recent months, according to the Official Vatican News Network.

"Those who in their lives have taken this evil road, this road of evil, such as the mobsters, they are not in communion with God, they are excommunicated," he said.

The area is reportedly known for mob and drug activity. Roughly 200,000 people were expected to attend the service in Sibari, a small town in Calabria.

"Your land, which is so beautiful, knows the signs of the consequences of this sin," he told those assembled. "This evil must be fought, must be expelled."

---

2014 Los Angeles Times