Pope blasts officials who ‘lust for power’


VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis lambasted the Vatican’s bureaucracy on Monday (Tuesday in Manila), saying some within the Church lusted for power and suffered from “spiritual Alzheimer’s” in comments likely to outrage his adversaries.

The Argentine used a Christmas speech to cardinals, bishops and priests to list a catalogue of ailments plaguing the very top of the Church.

He said the Vatican was riven with “existential schizophrenia,” “social exhibitionism,” “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and a lust for power, all of which made for an “orchestra that plays out of tune.”

The outspoken pope also warned against greed, egoism and people who think they are “immortal.”

It is not the first time the 78-year-old has taken on the scandal-hit, intrigue-filled Curia, and called for them to renounce gossip and act responsibly.

But rarely has he used such vivid terms to describe the sins he says afflict the heart of the Italian-dominated body, and the speech was very stonily received.

He slammed those who are slave to their “passions, caprices and manias” as well as those who “possess a heart of stone and a stiff neck.”

He bemoaned the “scandal” caused by infighting and those who live a “double life” — their public one and a “hidden and often immoral” one.

He pitied those who, ridden with jealousy, “feel joy in seeing others fall down” and urged top officials to help him find a “cure.”

The pope advised red-hatted cardinals full of their own self-importance to “pay a visit to the cemeteries” to look at those “who thought they were immortal, immune and indispensable!”

‘Cold-blooded murder’
And with relish, he also returned to one of his favorite themes: the evils of gossip.

Backstabbing by “cowards who don’t have the courage to say things openly” is tantamount to “murder in cold blood,” he said.

The diatribe will doubtless fuel the opposition to the reform-minded Francis that has been growing within the Church, according to Vatican watchers.

But religious expert Gianni Valente told La Stampa’s Vatican Insider that he would also be applauded for “calling the diseases which plague his surroundings by their names.”

His performance “foiled once more the stereotype of the ‘Latin American martian’ who is unaccustomed to the Roman and European ‘complexities’ with which his detractors and aspiring courtiers try to neutralize him,” he said.

Francis was elected in March last year on a mandate to overhaul the Vatican and put an end to decades of infighting within the powerful but troubled body.

Since then he has established a series of specialist bodies to tackle corruption and poor management, including the naming of eight cardinals from around the world to advise him on the Curia’s overhaul.

Despite winning the hearts of many religious and non-religious people alike around the world, the pope has also made enemies, particularly within the conservative arm of the Church.

Francis’ attempts to kick-start dialogue within the Church earlier this year over a possible new approach to remarried, divorced people and homosexuals sparked an outcry in some quarters.

His most vocal critic, the American cardinal Raymond Burke, was later demoted.

But Vatican watcher Andrea Tornielli said Monday’s speech did not herald “the start of witch-hunting season,” with other red hats ready to roll.



Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. Pope Francis, you are in my prayers everyday. With you at the helm, I pray that th Catholics who left the flick will come back. More power to you Pope Francis!

  2. The problem with the Vatican (or Roman) Curia is that its members seems to be permanently entrenched in their positions. This system of entrenchment promotes a mentality of elitism among the church hierarchy. Those at the very top develop a mentality of indispensability and self importance. When this happens they become detached and unconcerned with what is actually happening on the ground in every part of the world. The members of the clergy, those priests and bishops in the fields and ground, are actually the ones implementing the teachings of Christ. These are the true foot soldiers of Christ. However, their influence over the administration and running of the catholic church (which is directed from Rome) is very minimal. There is a detached relationship between the Roman Curia and the Bishops and priests all over the world. Pope Francis is one of those rarities who had actually been been on the ground (a foot soldier of Christ) and was propelled to the very top and. That is the reason why he has been very disappointed with what he sees at the top. One solution to the problem of entrenchment is to rotate priests and bishops between Rome and the Field. This will provide opportunities for many members of the clergy to have a bigger picture of what is happening and to think out of the box. But what is currently happening is that those priests and bishops who have become an embarrassment and tainted with scandal is being sent to Rome (in order for the brouhaha to settle down). The sad effect of this is that those same scandalized priests and bishops become more powerful and influential in Rome.


  3. Rosauro Feliciano on

    In my prayers I ask God to intervene in order to prevent another division in our Catholic Church similar to what had happened during the time of Martin Luther. To many Catholics, Pope Francis is correct in doing what he is saying that Christians need to live in peace through dialogue with others who are outside our Catholic Christian faith. God chooses us not to separate us from the rest of people in order to bestow upon us privileges, but He separates us and blesses us in order that we may be the channel of His blessing to others, to all peoples regardless of spiritual faith. When we read the Holy Bible we can have a mental picture about the besetting temptation of the people of Israel to glory in the fact that they had been chosen by God; to think that they were special with privileges, rather than to think they were special with responsibilities. Pope Francis is absolutely right in implicitly telling us that those who are at the helm of the Curia or the administrative body at the Vatican, by which the Pope governs the Roman Catholic Church, are chosen by God to mirror the goodness and the love of God to others. Truly today, it is the besetting temptation of the Catholic Church to glory in her privileges about not paying taxes so to uplift the miserable conditions of the poor who dwell on street corners rather than in her responsibilities, and this is exactly Pope Francis is fighting for by even telling the Bishops, Priests and all the religious personalities to leave their place of comforts and visit the poor who could hardly eat three times a day.

  4. >>>Pope mentioned….“spiritual Alzheimer’s; greed, egoism and people who think they are “immortal”; those who “possess a heart of stone and a stiff neck”; those who live a “double life” — their public one and a “hidden and often immoral” one; “those who feel joy in seeing others fall down”.


  5. Give onto what Cesar’s – separation of church from government politics.

    Pope Francis is priest. Priest here in USA molested little boys.

    Phils. Claimed 80% are Catholics but why are they so corrupt. Still they call themselves professing Christians. So they mocked Jesus Christ.

    Your politicians from top to the very rock bottom are liars and corrupt.

    I believe in the “Tuwid na Daan” as we can see the results.

    I’ll pray for you guys and always remember that God is closer to the poor and oppressed for they will inheret the kingdom of God.

    • Apparently the philippines government officials have more than those evil traits mentioned by the Pope…and it is “HYPOCRITE” and “LIAR”.

  6. Dear Pope Francis, continue your crusade against all evils plaguing political government and our Vacican government, because these are what must make big changes. I and my family are praying for your success and safety. We love you!!!

  7. Vatican is burning!!pope Francis nagsalita na sa kasamaan ng mga pari sa mismong loob ng Vatican!-!
    Ang unang pope na naging protestante!!
    Hindi na niya masikmura ang ginagawa ng kapwa pari niya!
    Ang paguho ng Babylonians!!nangyayarina at sila mismo ang nagwawasak ng kanila aral!!
    Mapapatay ng wala sa oras si ppope francis ng mga kasamahan niya o tuluyang magwatak-watak ang pamunuan ng katoliko!!
    Simula na ng paglaho!!
    Ang maling taga pagturo!!

  8. As the Pope hates politicians who lust for power, he will be seriously disappointed because that is exactly the kind of politicians who will meet and entertain him when he visits the Philippines … there is no other kind of Filipino politician except those who are called “kapit-tuko sa pwesto”. Sure Filipinos will profess that they are very religious – unfortunately their religiousness stops at the church doors on their way out.