POPE FRANCIS has been targeted for death by the Mafia, a top Italian crime-buster says, and his chilling revelation is triggering outrage from Catholics all over the world!

Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri says the crusading pontiff has infuriated gangsters with his anti-corruption reforms that include severing the Vatican Bank’s links to gangsters or Mob-run enterprises.

“The strong will of Pope Francis, aiming to disrupt the gangrene power centers, puts him at risk,” says Gratteri, who is tasked with bringing down underworld leaders. “He disturbs the Mafia very much. I don’t have precise information about the plan of the Mafia against Pope Francis. But if I did, I wouldn’t say.”

Defiant Francis refuses to be rattled by the warnings he’s in Mafia crosshairs.

In sermons, he’s called on gangsters to repent for “exploiting and enslaving people” and he has also blasted corrupt officials who deal with Mafia killers.

On Nov. 14, just a day after Gratteri’s alert, Francis, who turns 77 years old later this month, shunned his usual security measures. The Buenos Aires-born pontiff headed to a Rome meeting with Italian resident Giorgio Napolitano in a blue Ford Focus and just a small motorcade.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi says the Holy See was not concerned about the Pope’s safety, adding, “There’s no reason to fuel such alarmism.”

But Gratteri and other Mafia experts reveal the danger is very real.

“If the bosses could take him down they would not hesitate,” explains Gratteri, who is targeting the Mob group behind the threats, Italy’s richest Mafia family, the “Ndrangheta,” based in Calabria.

Organized crime expert Antonio Nicaso says gangsters often finance church repairs and underwrite religious celebrations in exchange for church officials keeping silent about their illegal activities.

“The church never raises the issue,” Nicaso notes. “The church has never excommunicated a Mobster.”

In June, the Pope established a five-member papal commission to investigate the Vatican Bank and its murky business practices.

A month later, a priest who worked as a Vatican financial analyst was accused of trying to help smuggle a fortune in cash across Europe in a private plane – amid speculation he was acting as a gangland courier.

Preventing the Mafia from using the Vatican Bank to smuggle money is a big reason Francis “may face some kind of risk,” says Nicaso. He warns it would be easy to assassinate Francis because “there are so many ways to kill a Pope. In the history of organized crime, whenever they had to remove an obstacle, they never thought about the consequences.”

The Pope’s delight at mixing with the massive crowds that gather wherever he goes poses a particular security risk, say experts. Says Nicaso, “He can’t go walking around Vatican Square like he’s a normal person.”