Reform: Pope condemns `betrayers’ in Vatican bureaucracy


Pope Francis

Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church

People serving in the Vatican’s bureaucracy should be loyal to the pope and avoid conspiracies and “little cliques,’’ Pope Francis said in a pre-Christmas address to the Roman Curia.

Francis, who is facing strong resistance to administrative and pastoral reforms, has in previous years used the annual speech to launch scathing attacks on corruption and malpractice within Vatican walls.

Vatican officials must “overcome that insane and degenerate conspiracy and little cliques mentality which in fact represents despite all justifications and good intentions a cancer that leads to self-servingness,’’ Francis warned.

They must be “antennas’’ who “faithfully broadcast the will of the pope and of their superiors,’’ he added.

The pope condemned “betrayers of trust who let themselves get corrupted by ambition and vainglory.’’

“When they are gently pushed out, they wrongly declare themselves martyrs of the system, of an ‘uninformed pope,’ of the ‘old guard,’ instead of reciting the ‘mea culpa,’’ Francis said, referring to the Latin prayer of confession.

Francis also quoted a maxim from 19th century Vatican statesman Xavier de Merode: “Doing reforms in Rome is like cleaning the Egyptian sphinx with a tootbrush.’’

His remarks could refer to Libero Milone, the chief Vatican auditor who was fired in June and later claimed he was ousted by “old powers.’’

They could also be seen as a response to German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, who in July was removed from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrine watchdog, in July, after criticising Francis’ softer stance on divorcees.