Pope Francis sharply criticises Vatican bureaucracy

Pope Francis has sharply criticised the Vatican bureaucracy in a pre-Christmas address to cardinals, complaining of “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and “the terrorism of gossip”.

He 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 criticised “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.

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Addressing the Curia on Monday, Pope Francis said some power-hungry clerics were guilty of “cold-bloodedly killing the reputation of their own colleagues and brothers”.

Analysis: BBC’s David Willey in Rome

Clearly Pope Francis is meeting opposition among the nearly 3,000 strong staff of the Italian-dominated Curia.

He had never worked in Rome before his election as pope last year, and – as a Vatican outsider from the other end of the world – is clearly frustrated by the slow-moving and creaking Vatican bureaucracy.

He is trying to reform it with the help of a new group of cardinal advisers he has called in from every continent to draw up a new Vatican constitution.

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Before his election in March 2013, the pontiff 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.

The Pope 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.

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