Texts in full
Pope vows to change the Vatican curia he brands a ‘leprosy of the papacy’
Francis outlines radical vision for the Church in lengthy interview to La Repubblica
1 October 2013, 9:00
Pope Francis, who not long ago said he didn’t like to give interviews to the press, has spoken at length to the left-leaning Italian daily, La Repubblica – the paper that last month published a personal letter Francis wrote to its former editor, Eugenio Scalfari.
This time Scalfari carried out the interview, which was full of characteristically striking lines. Francis described the Vatican curia as a ‘leprosy of the papacy’ that was too concerned with its own temporal interests. ‘I do not share this vision and will do all I can to change it,’ he declared.
Francis did not spare the Church’s leadership, saying: ‘The heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and badly excited by their courtiers.’
And neither did he have any time for clericalism – an over-emphasis of the status of the ordained. ‘When I’m faced with someone who’s clerical I immediately become an anti-clerical,’ he said candidly. ‘Clericalism should not have anything to do with Christianity,’ he warns.
Instead, the Pope outlined a radically different vision for the Church. He said he hoped for a ‘poor and missionary’ Church that works as leaven in society, and which aims is to build brotherly love among all people, rather than proselytise to gain new members.
He also expressed his intention to recover the Second Vatican Council’s decision for the Church to ‘open up to modernity’ and bolster religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers.
Last month Francis gave the Jesuits, his own order, his first press interview – the first not counting the impromptu press conference Francis chose to give journalists on the papal plane on the way back from World Youth Day in Brazil in July.
This week’s edition of the British Roman Catholic newspaper ‘The Tablet’ carries this report made on his interview by the Italian national newspaper ‘La Repubblica” on October 1st 2013. This aspect of the interview, covering a remark made by the Pope about the culture of the Roman Curia, has been disputed – in one letter to The Tablet – as being addressed , not to the members of the Curia, but to the household staff at the Vatican.
However, to whomever the remark was addressed, there will no doubt be a shake-up at the Vatican over what has been perceived by the new Pope as a culture of extravagance in the very heart of the Vatican bureaucracy, a culture seemingly replicated among some of the Church’s Bishops on the ground in other parts of the Roman Catholic Church. There is also news, in ‘The Tablet’, of the Pope disciplining a German Bishop for excessive spending on the refurbishment of his episcopal residence.
These are unmistakable signs of the fact that Pope Francis is re-orienting the priorities of the Roman Catholic Church towards the needs of the poor, whom a former Bishop and Saint of the Church once called ‘The Treasure of The Church’ .
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand