Vatican City, April 5 (IANS/AKI) Members of Italy's organised crime syndicates "have no hope", Pope Francis said on Wednesday, urging Catholics to shun score-settling and "do good" even towards those who wish them ill.
"Members of the mafia think that they can combat evil with evil and so they wage vendettas and do the evil things we know they do," Francis said during his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square.
"But they do not know mercy, leniency because mafia members have no hope."
Hope is not a concept, a feeling, a mobile phone or wealth, the pontiff explained, referring pilgrims to the bible's First Letter of St Peter.
"Hope lies in a person - the Lord Jesus Christ, who we recognise to be alive and living within us and in our brothers. Because Christ is risen!"
Each time Catholics forgive and bless without vindictiveness those who do harm or who are shunned by society, "we shine, like luminous symbols of hope," Francis said.
"In this way we become instruments of consolation and peace, in keeping with the heart of God," he said in the unscripted remarks.