Pope Francis slammed the Vatican’s bureaucracy on Monday and listed 15 sins of the Curia that he said he hoped would be atoned for and resolved in the New Year. The pontiff used his annual Christmas address to deliver a denunciation to the gathered cardinals, bishops and priests, some of whom he criticized for living hypocritical double lives and lusting for power, according to the Associated Press.
Among Francis’ list of 15 sins was what he called a “spiritual Alzheimer's” that he said has made members of the Curia forget that they are supposed to be men of God, along with the “pathology of power” that makes them seek power at all costs. Francis also condemned the “terrorism of gossip” that he said can “kill the reputations of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood” and said that cliques can “enslave their members and becomes a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body,” reported the AP. Francis’ critique was not well received by the gathered cardinals, drawing only tepid applause.
Francis has not shied away from criticizing the Vatican’s bureaucracy in the past, but Monday’s blistering denunciation of the institution’s power struggles and careerism is an even bolder step by the pontiff, who's been pursuing a reform agenda since his ascension to the papacy in March 2013. His efforts to reform the Vatican have met with stiff resistance from traditionalists within the institution, and his habit of airing the Holy See’s dirty laundry, particularly during the church’s two-week-long Synod of Bishops on October, which was seen as the last straw for many, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
Many bishops have also bucked against Francis' push to make the church more welcoming by deemphasizing its traditional rhetoric around divisive social issues such as gay marriage and abortion. The perceived liberalism of this shift has inspired anxiety among many bishops who worry that Francis' open dialogue about the church's teachings could undermine the institution, according to the Guardian.