Pope Francis continue assault on Vatican traditions by calling predecessors ‘narcissists’ who let themselves be flattered by the ‘papal court’
- Argentine pope promises to reform Vatican’s inward-looking mentality
- Comments published at the start of his three-day meeting with cardinals
- They hope to find ways to reform the Catholic church’s administration
- He also reveals moment of doubt on his election to church’s top job
PUBLISHED:12:34 GMT, 1 October 2013| UPDATED:12:34 GMT, 1 October 2013
The Pope has accused many of his predecessors of being ‘narcissists’ who have let themselves be flattered by ‘courtier’ aides.
Reformist church leader Francis promised to do everything in his power to change the Vatican’s mentality, saying that the Holy See had been too focused on his own interests.
Refusing to mince his words, the 76-year-old’s remarks were the latest volley in his assault on Catholic tradition, which has included stiff criticism of its obsession with sexual morality.
‘The [papal] court is the leprosy of the papacy,’ said Francis in a long interview with the atheist editor of Italy’s left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper.
It was published today as he began a private, three-day meeting with eight cardinals from around the world to help him reform Vatican administration, known as the Curia.
There are some ‘courtiers’ among the Curia’s administrators, he said, but its main defect is that it is too inward-looking.
‘It looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, in large part temporal interests. This Vatican-centric vision neglects the world around it and I will do everything to change it,’ he said.
Francis said the eight cardinals he had chosen to make up his advisory board did not have selfish motives.
‘They are not courtiers but wise people who are inspired by my same feelings. This is the start of a Church with an organisation that is not only vertical but also horizontal,’ he said.
But Francis stayed away from themes of sexual morality, on which he has signalled a dramatic about turn in Catholic doctrine.
He last month declared in an interview with Jesuit journals that the Catholic Church must shake off an obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality and become more merciful.
Francis, who is credited with bringing a new style of openness, consultation and simplicity to the papacy, also today revealed that he considered rejecting his election as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.
He was selected by his fellow cardinals to be the 266th pope after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
He told how on the night fellow cardinals elected him in the Sistine Chapel on March 13, before formally accepting, he had asked to go to an adjoining room to be alone.
‘My head was completely empty and a great anxiety came over me. To make it go away and relax I closed my eyes and every thought went away, even that of not accepting, which the liturgical procedures permitted,’ he said.
Speaking of his personal faith, Francis said: ‘A Catholic God does not exist…
‘I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my master and my pastor, but God, the father … is the light and the creator. This is my being.’
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