VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians and non-Christians must join the fight against corruption, which tears apart the bonds that unite humanity, Pope Francis said.

Corruption “reveals such strong anti-social conduct” that it “dissolves the pillars upon which society is founded: coexistence among people and the vocation to develop it,” the pope wrote in the preface to a new book.

“Corruption breaks all of this by replacing the common good with a particular interest that contaminates every general outlook,” he wrote. “It is born of a corrupt heart and is the worst social plague because it generates serious problems and crimes involving everyone.”


The new book, “Corrosion,” was written by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Vittorio V. Alberti, an Italian philosopher. The book’s release coincided with the Vatican’s first “International Debate on Corruption.”

The meeting, sponsored by the dicastery and the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, looked at corruption as a global problem and at its connections to organized crime and the Mafia.

Writing the book’s preface, Pope Francis said the etymology of the word “corruption” conjures images of a heart that is broken and ruined “like a body that in nature enters into a process of decay and stench.”

The scourge of corruption, he said, is behind the exploitation of people and the environment, the trafficking of humans, arms and drugs, as well as the violation of human rights.

“Corruption, which is in fact a weapon, is the most common language especially of the Mafia and criminal organizations in the world,” the pope wrote. Corruption is “a process of death that lends itself to the culture of death” espoused and promoted by the Mafia.

However, he said, even the church isn’t immune to the dangers of corruption, which manifests itself in a way “that is more disastrous than leprosy.”

“Our corruption is spiritual worldliness, being lukewarm, hypocrisy, triumphalism, making the spirit of the world dominant in our lives, the feeling of indifference,” he said.

To fight this, Pope Francis said the church must listen and console those who are suffering and should do so “assiduously seeking the way to improve itself.”

All men and women in the church, he added, can accompany each other and those oppressed by the consequences of organized crime and social degradation while fighting against this “cancer that consumes our lives.”

“We — Christians and non-Christians — are snowflakes, but if we unite we can become an avalanche, a strong and constructive movement,” the pope said.