Pope: organized crime is a grave threat to society

Pope Benedict XVI denounced organized crime as a "gravely destabilizing threat" to society during an audience Friday with members of Interpol, and called for greater international cooperation to fight it.

Benedict called the trafficking in organs as one of the more "barbarian" activities carried out by organized crime groups, saying the victims "undergo physical and moral humiliation which we had hoped were over after the tragedies of the 20th century but which, unfortunately, have again surfaced."

"These crimes transgress the moral barriers which were progressively built up by civilization and they reintroduce a form of barbarism which denies man and his dignity," he said.

Italy, which is battling organized crime groups including the Sicilian Mafia, the Calabrian `ndrangheta and the Neapolitan Camorra, hosted the weeklong Interpol meeting in Rome.

On Thursday, Interpol elected its first female president, Mireille Ballestrazzi, the inspector general of France's national police.

In an interview with The Associated Press after her election, Ballestrazzi said she was proud about what her election meant for women, but stressed that she represented all police forces in the common fight against crime.

"We need to face new threats like cybercrime," she said. "It is all about being across all fronts that are a real threat like organized crime, human trafficking, obviously terrorism."

Newly named Interpol president Mireille Balestrazzi attends the closing session of the 81st Interpol General Assembly, in Rome, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012. The 81st session of the general assembly of the Interpol closed with the election of its first female president, France's Mireille Ballestrazzi. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Enlargephoto

Newly named Interpol president Mireille Balestrazzi attends the closing session of the 81st Interpol General Assembly, in Rome, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012. The 81st session of the general assembly of the Interpol closed with the election of its first female president, France's Mireille Ballestrazzi. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)