The Mafia are considering a lethal strike on Pope Francis, a senior prosecutor in Italy's crime-torn deep South has warned.
The pontiff's life is in danger because his desire to sweep away corruption in 'a total clean-up' is making organised criminal groups 'nervous', the deputy chief prosecutor of Reggio Calabria claimed.
Since Francis took office in April, he has made it clear that he intends to rid the Holy See of its corrupt ways and clean up the notorious Vatican bank, long used by money launderers.
He immediately dispatched the chairman of the IOR bank Gotti Tedeschi and subsequently forced his own number two Cardinal Bertone, who had been accused of corruption, into retirement.
In one of his first sermons as Pope he took aim at the mafia calling on them to repent for 'exploiting and enslaving people'.
And earlier this week in his most impassioned sermon to date, the pontiff said that officials who took bribes should be 'tied to a rock and thrown in the sea'.
Dr Gratteri said the members of the Calabrian Ndrangheta mafia are concerned by Pope Francis's crusade against corruption, 'wearing his iron crucifix, as he rails against worldly goods and plans a total clean up'.