Pope Francis called on the Catholic Church to change itself with the times and to shun the temptations of wealth and greed at a gathering of Italian bishops and church officials Tuesday in Florence, Italy.
"We are not living an era of change but a change of era," Francis said to the 2,200 people from 220 Italian dioceses at the national conference, which occurs every 10 years. "Before the problems of the church, it is not useful to search for solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism, in the restoration of obsolete conduct and forms that no longer have the capacity of being significant culturally."
The speech comes on the heels of a scandal in which two books based on leaked Vatican documents expose greed, corruption and resistance to reforms within the church. Two Vatican officials have since been arrested in an investigation of the leaks.
Pope Francis, who denounced the leaks as a crime, has nevertheless said he will continue with his reform agenda -- as evidenced by Tuesday’s speech.
"May God protect the Italian church from every pretense of power, image and money," said Pope Francis. He also called on Christians to eschew power "even when it takes the shape of a power that is useful to the social image of the church."
The comments were delivered on the second day of the decennial national conference of Italian church officials, which will continue through Friday. After the speech, Francis emphasized his point by eating lunch with poor citizens of Florence, rather than dining with church officials.