World

Pope in Naples decries exploitation by mobsters; tells Neapolitans to hold out for honest work

  • Pope Francis celebrates a Mass in Naples, Italy, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Pope Francis is on a one-day visit to Naples and Pompeii. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis celebrates a Mass in Naples, Italy, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Pope Francis is on a one-day visit to Naples and Pompeii. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis celebrates a Mass in Naples, Italy, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Pope Francis made an impassioned defense of the unemployed during a speech to people in the poor Neapolitan neighborhood of Scampia Saturday. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis celebrates a Mass in Naples, Italy, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Pope Francis made an impassioned defense of the unemployed during a speech to people in the poor Neapolitan neighborhood of Scampia Saturday. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis meets children during his visit to Scampia, suburb of Naples, Italy, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Pope Francis made an impassioned defense of the unemployed during a speech to people in the poor Neapolitan neighborhood of Scampia Saturday. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

    Pope Francis meets children during his visit to Scampia, suburb of Naples, Italy, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Pope Francis made an impassioned defense of the unemployed during a speech to people in the poor Neapolitan neighborhood of Scampia Saturday. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis, visiting Italy's impoverished south, has told Neapolitans to resist exploitation by Mafia dons and seek the dignity of honest work.

On a day trip Saturday to Naples, Francis spoke to residents of Scampia, a rundown neighborhood dominated by Camorra mobsters, and decried its chronic joblessness.

In places like Scampia, more than half of young people are jobless. Many wind up working for the Naples-based crime syndicate as drug couriers or extortionists, shaking down local merchants for so-called "protection money."

Later, in his homily in Naples' main square, Francis urged tens of thousands of people to hold on to hope and resist the "easy earnings or dishonest income" of drug trafficking. He called on Mafiosi and their accomplices to abandon their criminal ways.