Pope tells Vatican bureaucracy reform will go ahead

Pope Francis
Pope sends message to people of Egypt ahead of visit [PHOTO | COURTESY]

Pope Francis told members of the Vatican bureaucracy  that reforms to make it more efficient and honest will move ahead “with firm resolve”, despite scandals that have rocked the Church.

At the start of traditional Christmas greetings to the Curia, as the central Vatican administration is known, the pope said he was suffering from a flu and excused himself for reading the speech sitting down.

However, he did not show any outward signs of illness and read his speech in a strong voice, noting cases “of resistance difficulties and failures” by some individuals in the central administration who were opposed to his reform drive.

“It seems necessary to state what has been, and ever shall be, the object of sincere reflection and decisive provisions. The reform will move forward with determination, clarity and firm resolve …” he said.

”However, diseases and even scandals cannot hide the effectiveness of the services that the Roma Curia, with great effort and responsibility, with commitment and dedication, provides to the Pope and to the whole church” Pope Francis said.

”And this is a great consolation,” he added.

This was an apparent reference to a current trial in the Vatican where five people, including two members of the Curia and two journalists, are charged with the theft of confidential papal documents.

The leaks were the basis of two books published last month that depicted a Vatican plagued by greed and graft and where the pope faces stiff resistance to his reform agenda.

Francis noted cases “of resistance, difficulties and failures” by some Curia employees opposed to his reforms.

Joking that some in the Curia still needed “Curial antibiotics,” he added that “diseases and even scandals cannot obscure” the good work that many of them do for the 1.2 billion-member Church.

Later on Monday, meeting Vatican workers and employees Pope Francis thanked them for their often behind-the-scenes work and apologised for the scandals.

”Whilst I thank you (for your work), I want to ask your forgiveness for the scandals that have taken place at the Vatican,” Francis said.

”My attitude, as well as yours, particularly in these days, should be that to pray, to pray for the people involved in these scandals so that those who have made mistakes can repent and get back on right path,” the Pope added.

Shortly after his election two years ago, Francis set out to reform the Italian-dominated Curia, whose power struggles and leaks were widely held responsible for Benedict XVI’s decision in 2013 to become the first pope in six centuries to resign.

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 hierarchy closer to the poor.

But while he has renounced the spacious papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, some officials have faced criticism, including former Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone over the restoration of a luxurious retirement apartment.

Bertone, an Italian who was widely blamed for the Curia woes under Pope Benedict, offered at the weekend to repay 150,000 euros ($162,990) to a Church-affiliated

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