Excommunicating mobsters? Vatican eyes new legal doctrine

Pope Francis looks on after his private audience with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at the Vatican, Saturday, June 17, 2017. (Ettore

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is looking to develop a new doctrine that calls for excommunicating Catholics for mafia association and corruption.

That's the decision reached this week after the Vatican hosted its first-ever conference on fighting corruption and organized crime. The meeting gathered 50 prosecutors, bishops, victims and U.N. officials for a day of talks.

In a statement Saturday, the Vatican said the need had come to develop a new legal doctrine for the Catholic Church about "excommunication for corruption and mafia association."

Pope Francis has long railed against corruption, writing a short book about it as archbishop. And during a 2014 visit to one of Italy's mafia strongholds, Francis told mobsters they were excommunicated. But actually developing a doctrine around the concept would mark a new step for the Vatican.