Pope Issues Blistering Rebuke of Vatican Bureaucracy

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Denounces Living of Hypocritical Double Lives, Lusting for Power at All Costs.

Pope Francis launched his harshest criticism to date of the Vatican bureaucracy, likening it to an “ailing body,” and setting the stage for what is expected to be sweeping reform next year.

In his Christmas address on Monday to cardinals and senior officials attached to the Curia, the church’s Rome-based administrative apparatus, Pope Francis warned against “spiritual Alzheimer’s disease,” careerism and gossip.

The harsh critique grabbed wide attention, with the Religion News Service offering a headline that said, “Pope Francis to Curia: Merry Christmas, you power-hungry hypocrites.”

Pope Francis has broken new ground during his papacy in a range of areas, suggesting a more open approach to homosexuals, advocating a stronger role for women in the church, rebalancing the College of Cardinals to increase the weight of the emerging world, and helping support the reopening of relations between Cuba and the U.S.

In a similar vein, the address to the Curia seemed to serve notice that he aggressively plans to take on the problems that have developed in the Vatican bureaucracy during the past decade from infighting among cardinals to embarrassing leaks.

The detailed critique of the Curia suggested that reforms will aim for greater transparency, greater efficiency and a more positive model for the Catholic Church at large.

The pope publicly takes on the fiefdoms within the Vatican, and seeks to break “the closed circles of power,” said Chad Pecknold, associate professor at the Catholic University of America. “It’s a full-on broadside to the heads of the Curia, but also the 3,000 staff…who suffer from the same problems.”

The pontiff’s remarks presented a colorful 15-point list of “diseases” from which the Curia suffers.

“He’s opening up a dialogue that never existed before and I think that’s a very healthy thing,” said Raymond Flynn, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, and a Catholic. “Some people will get their nose out of joint, but in the final analysis I think this makes the church stronger.”

Mr. Flynn said the frank talk will go over well with younger Catholics who will see “he’s inviting dialogue and a new way of looking at things.”Sometimes you have to be provocative to really get people’s attention.”

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