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Pope visits Scampia, urges Camorra criminals 'return to honesty'

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By Keith Walker  with REUTERS
Pope visits Scampia, urges Camorra criminals 'return to honesty'

Pope Francis has visited one of Italy’s most dangerous neighbourhoods in the city of Naples.

Scampia has been described as a forgotten, crumbling slum in the heart of Western Europe. It is essentially under the control of one of Italy’s oldest crime organizations, the Camorra.

“Corruption stinks and a corrupt society stinks! So go ahead and clear your souls and clean up the city and clean up society so that there is no longer that stink of corruption,” Francis said.

He was speaking in the shadow of a dilapidated sail boat-shaped housing project known as Le Vele, so dangerous that even police are sometimes afraid to enter, according to locals.

The pope urged residents of the blighted area, which has often been the battleground of Camorra clans fighting each other for control of drug trafficking and extortion rackets, not to let criminals rob them of their hope.

Later at a mass in the city centre, Francis appealed directly to criminals, humbly asking them to “convert to love and justice and return to honesty.”