In a pre-Christmas address to cardinals, Pope Francis has sharply criticized the Vatican bureaucracy, complaining of “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and “the terrorism of gossip”.
The pontiff said the Curia – the administrative pinnacle of the Roman Catholic Church – was suffering from 15 “ailments”, which he wanted cured in the New Year.
Pope Francis – the first Latin American pontiff – also criticized “those who look obsessively at their own image”.
He has demanded reform of the Curia.
There was silence at the end of the Pope’s speech.
He compared the performance of the church’s civil servants to that of an orchestra playing “out of tune” because they fail to collaborate and have no team spirit.
Before his election in March 2013, Pope Francis encountered internal opposition to some of the reforms he wants to carry out.
He has set up a series of specialist bodies to fight corruption and poor management, appointing a team of advisers.
Pope Francis also launched a clean-up of the Vatican Bank, officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR). The IOR has long had a poor reputation, after a succession of scandals.
He has also suggested that the Curia’s power – concentrated in Rome for centuries – could be diluted to some extent by giving Catholic bishops around the world a bigger say in Church doctrine.
Pope Francis himself did not work in the Curia before he was elected.
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