Pope attacks Vatican’s bureaucracy in Christmas speech; accuses some of having ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s’


Pope Francis has lambasted the Vatican’s bureaucracy, saying some within the Church had a lust for power, were indifferent to others and suffered from “spiritual Alzheimer’s”.

The pontiff used a Christmas speech to cardinals, bishops and priests to list a catalogue of ailments plaguing some at the very top and urging a “cure”.

He said the Vatican was riven with “existential schizophrenia”, “social exhibitionism”, “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and a lust for power, all of which have led to an “orchestra that plays out of tune”.

He warned against greed, egoism and people who think they are “immortal”.

Pope Francis, the first non-European Pope in 1,300 years, has refused many of the trappings of office and made plain his determination to bring the Church’s hierarchy closer to its 1.2 billion members.

He has set out to reform the Italian-dominated Curia, whose power struggles and leaks were widely held responsible for Benedict XVI’s decision last year to become the first Pope in six centuries to resign.

A Curia that does not criticise itself … that does not try to improve, is a sick body

Pope Francis


“The Curia needs to change, to improve … a Curia that does not criticise itself, that does not bring itself up to date, that does not try to improve, is a sick body,” he said in a sombre address.

Pope Francis said some in the Curia acted as if they were “immortal, immune or even indispensable”, an apparent reference to retired cardinals who remain in the Vatican and continue to exert influence.

He told his audience that too many of them suffered from “rivalry and vainglory”; superiors favoured protégés and underlings fawned on bosses to further careers; while others fed gossip or false information to the media.

Pope Francis was elected in March last year on a mandate to overhaul the government and put an end to decades of infighting within the powerful but troubled body.

Since then the pontiff has establish a series of specialist bodies to tackle corruption and poor management in the Vatican, including the naming of eight cardinals from around the world to advise him on the Curia overhaul.



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