Pope in blistering critique of Vatican bureaucrats

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Pope Francis
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Pope in blistering critique of Vatican bureaucrats
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - OCTOBER 30: Pope Francis attends an audience with President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz at the Apostolic Palace on October 30, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will speak before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, on November 25th, during its plenary assembly. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) wears a plastic poncho as he waves to well wishers after a mass in Tacloban on January 17, 2015. Pope Francis will spend an emotional day in the Philippines on January 17 with survivors of a catastrophic super typhoon that claimed thousands of lives, highlighting his concern over climate change. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 02: Pope Francis leads Mass with members of the institutes of Consecrated Life at St. Peter's Basilica on February 2, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pontiff further urged the bishops to pay special attention to vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, saying that they need 'adequate training' throughout their ministry. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
METRO MANILA, PHILIPPINES - 2015/01/18: Pope Francis is in his 5-day trip to the Philippines for the first time from January 15 to 19. The pontiff's trip will be highlighted by visits to Haiyan-struck areas in the Visayas region, South of Manila. (Photo by John Jerome E. Ganzon/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Pope Francis smiles in front of a videocamera as he take part in a video conference to mark the end of the IV Scholas Occurrentes World Educational Congress, at the Vatican, on February 5, 2015. The 'Scholas Occurrentes' organization is an international project based in Argentina that brings together schools and educational networks from different cultures and beliefs. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 28: Pope Francis smiles as he receives from a newly married couple a figurine featuring himself, during his audience at the Paul VI Hall on January 28, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. Speaking during the weekly General Audience, the Pope called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a 'father figure' can have grave consequences. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis holds a St. Therese's Icon during a press conference aboard a plane during his trip to the Philippines on January 15, 2015. Pope Francis arrived in the Philippines on January 15 for a five-day trip in the Catholic Church's passionate and chaotic Asian heartland that is tipped to attract a world-record papal crowd. AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - NOVEMBER 26: Pope Francis attends his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square on November 26, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. During today's General Audience Pope Francis told pilgrims the Church is on a continuing journey towards heaven. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - OCTOBER 02: Pope Francis kisses a young kid as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his weekly audience on October 2, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. During the audience the Pontiff said the Church is not without sin because it is made up of sinners. Priests, sisters, bishops, cardinals and even Popes are sinners. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis speaks during the audience to the Vatican employees, on December 22, 2014 in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - MAY 26: (ISRAEL OUT) Pope Francis prays by the Western Wall on May 26, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. Pope Francis arrived in Israel on Sunday afternoon, a day after landing in the Middle East for his first visit to the Holy Land. During his visit to the West Bank the Pontiff addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as 'unacceptable' and urged both sides to find courage in seeking a peaceful solution. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Pope Francis kisses a boy as he arrives for his general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on February 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis loses his 'papalina' cup as he catches a baseball ball thrown by a faithful at the end of his weekly audience at St. Peter's Square on September 24, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. During his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis reflected on his Apostolic Voyage to Albania. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis smiles as he wear a military Alpine hat upon his arrival at St.Peter's square for the weekly general audience on March 5, 2014. The pontiff today has defended the Catholic Church's record on tackling the sexual abuse of children by priests, saying 'no-one else has done more' to root out paedophilia. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 17: Pope Francis blows out the candles on his birthday cake during his general audience at St Peter's square on December 17, 2014 at the Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo by Evren Atalay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Pope Francis caresses a child during the audience to the Vatican employees, on December 22, 2014 in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gestures in St.Peter's square at Vatican during his weekly general audience on March 5, 2014. Pope Francis has defended the Catholic Church's record on tackling the sexual abuse of children by priests, saying 'no-one else has done more' to root out paedophilia. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis exchanges gifts with the Prime Minister of Romania Victor Ponta (R) as his wife and European Parliament Member Daciana Sarbu (L) looks on during a private audience in the pontiff's studio at the Vatican on March 1, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ALESSANDRA TARANTINO (Photo credit should read ALESSANDRA TARANTINO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 23: Pope Francis drinks mate as he holds his weekly audience on April 23, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pilgrims have started to arrive in St. Peter's Square for the Canonization ceremony for Pope John XXIII and John Paul II, which will take place on Sunday 27th. (Photo by Giulio Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis greets a child dressed up as a pope as he arrives for his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on February 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read OSSERVATORE ROMANO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 21: Pope Francis greets cardinals as he arrives at the Synod Hall for the morning session of Extraordinary Consistory on the themes of Family on February 21, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Francis will create 19 new cardinals during his first consistory on February 22. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis salutes the crowd as he arrives for his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on February 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis is welcomed by faithfuls while arriving for a visit to the parish of San Tommaso on the outskirts of Rome on February 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
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VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis issued a blistering critique Monday of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing how some people lust for power at all costs, live hypocritical double lives and suffer from "spiritual Alzheimer's" that has made them forget they're supposed to be joyful men of God.

Francis' Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalog of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the New Year.

He had some zingers: How the "terrorism of gossip" can "kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood." How cliques can "enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body" and eventually kill it by "friendly fire." About how those living hypocritical double lives are "typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that no academic degree can fill."

"The Curia is called on to always improve itself and grow in communion, holiness and knowledge to fulfill its mission," Francis said. "But even it, as any human body, can suffer from ailments, dysfunctions, illnesses."

Francis, who is the first Latin American pope and never worked in the Italian-dominated Curia before he was elected, has not shied from complaining about the gossiping, careerism and bureaucratic power intrigues that afflict the Holy See. But as his reform agenda has gathered steam, he seemed even more emboldened to highlight what ails the institution.

The cardinals were not amused. The speech was met with tepid applause, and few were smiling as Francis listed one by one the 15 "Ailments of the Curia" that he had drawn up, complete with footnotes and Biblical references.

The annual Christmas greeting comes at a tense time for the Curia, the central administration of the Holy See which governs the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church. Francis and his nine key cardinal advisers are drawing up plans to revamp the whole bureaucratic structure, merging offices to make them more efficient and responsive.

The Vatican's finances are also in the midst of an overhaul, with Francis' finance czar, Cardinal George Pell, imposing new accounting and budget measures on traditionally independent congregations not used to having their books inspected.

Yet it was perhaps Pell that Francis had in mind when he complained about the temptation to lust for power even if it means defaming or discrediting others "even in newspapers or magazines, to show themselves as more capable ... in the name of justice and transparency."

Pell recently penned an explosive essay in Britain's Catholic Herald in which he said his team had discovered that the financial situation of the Holy See was "much healthier than it seemed, because some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet."

The Vatican later clarified that the money hadn't been hidden and that nothing illicit was going on, just that the funds didn't appear on the Vatican's balance sheet. Over the weekend, the Jesuit magazine America reported that an internal Vatican memo had undercut Pell's claim of having found the cash in the first place, saying the funds kept in the Vatican Secretariat of State were well-known, duly reported, were used to cover Vatican losses and special projects and actually had been well-managed over the years.

Francis started off his list with the "ailment of feeling immortal, immune or even indispensable."

Then one-by-one he went on: Being vain. Wanting to accumulate things. Having a "hardened heart." Wooing superiors for personal gain. Having a "funereal face" and being too `'rigid, tough and arrogant," especially toward underlings - a possible reference to the recently relieved Swiss Guard commander said to have been too tough on his recruits for Francis' tastes.

Some critiques could have been seen as worthy of praise: working too hard and planning too much ahead. But even those traits came in for criticism as Francis noted that people who don't take time off to be with family are overly stressed, and those who plan everything to a `'T" don't allow themselves to be surprised by the "freshness, fantasy and novelty" of the Holy Spirit.

"How good it is for us to have a healthy sense of humor," he said.

At the end of the speech, Francis asked the prelates to pray that the "wounds of the sins that each one of us carries are healed" and that the Church and Curia itself are made healthy.

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Pope in blistering critique of Vatican bureaucrats
ROME - OCTOBER 23: The picture shows an aerial view of St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican walls and gardens on October 23, 2007 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: St Peter's Basilica, Rome, and the elliptical piazza and colonnades designed by Bernini (1598-1680). From Nouveau Voyage d'Italie, 1702. Copperplate engraving. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 04: A cardinal arrives at the Paul VI hall for the opening of the Cardinals' Congregations on March 4, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The congregations of cardinals will continue until all cardinal electors have arrived in Rome, whereupon the College will decide on the start-date of the Conclave to elect a new Pope. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 24: A general view of St. Peter's Square during the Easter Mass held by Pope Benedict XVI on April 24, 2011 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
This picture shows the headquarters of the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) the Vatican's bank on February 18, 2012 at The Vatican. erman financier Ernst von Freyberg was named the new president of the Vatican bank on February 15, ending a long vacancy after his predecessor at the secretive institution was unceremoniously sacked. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Franciswalks to the altar during his grandiose inauguration mass on March 19, 2013 at St Peter's square at the Vatican. Pope Francis swept into St Peter's Square on Tuesday to greet throngs of pilgrims before a sumptuous ceremony in which Latin America's first pontiff will receive the formal symbols of papal power. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
A seagull flies in front of St Peter's basilica on January 22, 2013 in Rome. AFP PHOTO / TIZIANA FABI (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
St Peter's Square, Rome, 20th century. Saint Peter's Square, or Saint Peter's Piazza, is located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the papal enclave withiin Rome. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 20: People gather as Pope Francis holds Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square on April 20, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Francis is attending the Holy Week for his second time as a Pontiff. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
A picture taken on December 4, 2014 at sunrise shows the St Peter's basilica in Vatican. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis greets the crowd from the popemobile during his weekly general audience on December 3, 2014 at the Vatican. Photo Credit: Gabriel Bouys, APF/Getty Images
Pope Francis waves at the end of a meeting with the Pauline family (Paolina family) in occasion of the centenary of its foundation by Don Giacomo Alberione, on Novembre 27, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. Pope Francis heads to Turkey on Friday, it will be the first papal visit to Turkey since the now-retired Benedict XVI went there in 2006 against a backrop of anger in much of the Muslim world over comments which appeared to link the Prophet Mohamed to violence. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - NOVEMBER 26: Pilgrims leave the St. Peter's square at the end of Pope Francis' general audience on November 26, 2014 in Vatican City. (Photo by Baris Seckin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - NOVEMBER 23: Pope Francis waves as he leaves St. Peters Square at the end of a canonization mass on November 23, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pontiff canonized six new saints two from Kerala (India) Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Mother Eufrasia Eluvathingal, and four Italians: Amato Ronconi, Giovanni Antonio Farina, Nicola da Longobardi and Ludovico da Casoria. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - NOVEMBER 23: A general view of a canonization mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peters Square on November 23, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pontiff canonized six new saints two from Kerala (India) Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Mother Eufrasia Eluvathingal, and four Italians: Amato Ronconi, Giovanni Antonio Farina, Nicola da Longobardi and Ludovico da Casoria. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - NOVEMBER 23: Pope Francis waves as he leaves St. Peters Square at the end of a canonization mass on November 23, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pontiff canonized six new saints two from Kerala (India) Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Mother Eufrasia Eluvathingal, and four Italians: Amato Ronconi, Giovanni Antonio Farina, Nicola da Longobardi and Ludovico da Casoria. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - OCTOBER 06: Australian Cardinal George Pell arrives at the Synod Hall for the opening of the Synod on the themes of family on October 6, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The two week General Assembly will discuss the 'The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of the Evangelization'. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JUNE 29: Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell (C) attends the mass and imposition of the Pallium upon the new metropolitan archbishops held by Pope Francis for the Solemnity of Saint Peter and Paul at Vatican Basilica on June 29, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass in St Peter's Basilica on Saturday morning, to mark the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles and Patrons fo the city of Rome. In his remarks following the Gospel reading, the Holy Father focused on a particular task of the Petrine ministry, which is to strengthen, or confirm, all the faithful. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Interior of the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome', 1750s. Panini, Giovanni Paolo (1691-1765). Italy, Roman School. Found in the collection of the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 19: Pope Francis during his Inauguration Mass on March 19, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The inauguration of Pope Francis is being held in front of an expected crowd of up to one million pilgrims and faithful who have crowded into St Peter's Square and the surrounding streets to see the former Cardinal of Buenos Aires officially take up his position. Pope Francis' inauguration takes place in front his cardinals, spiritual leaders as well as heads of states from around the world and he will now lead an estimated 1.3 billion Catholics. (Photo by Europa Press/Europa Press via Getty Images)
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