VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When politics becomes all about partisan interests and secret deals, it leaves behind its true vocation and becomes susceptible to the same influences of corruption that allow the Mafia to flourish, Pope Francis said.

Authentic politics is “an eminent form of charity,” which strives to ensure a future of peace and full dignity for every person, whereas “a deviated politics” no longer listens to the conscience, but “banalizes evil, confuses truth with lies and profits from the role of public responsibility it has been given,” the pope said.

Meeting Sept. 21 with members of Italy’s anti-Mafia parliamentary commission, Pope Francis praised Italian laws that seek to involve the government and citizens, religious communities and volunteer associations in the fight against organized crime. In particular, he cited the wisdom of provisions whereby some of the convicted Mafia members’ property, confiscated by the government, is turned over to nonprofit groups to provide training and jobs to students and the unemployed.

Corruption, poverty and social injustice are the “fertile fields” upon which organized crime grows and thrives, he said.

Corruption is not interested in the common good but focuses on the self-interest of an individual or group, he said. The corrupt think they can get ahead by being “sly.”

While direct legal attacks on the Mafia are essential, they will not be enough to end organized crime, the pope said. Politicians must work for “greater social justice because the Mafia has it easy when it can offer itself as an alternative system in a region where rights and opportunities are lacking: work, a home, education, health care.”

But economic maneuvers also are necessary for “the correction or cancellation of those mechanisms that generate inequality and poverty,” he said. Too often it seems that “finance is sovereign over democracy,” which enables organized crime to make billions through trafficking drugs and weapons or through manipulated contracts for public works or toxic-waste handling.