RELIGION
10/01/2013 03:22 pm ET | Updated Oct 01, 2013

Pope Francis Slams 'Vatican-Centric' Catholic Church, 'Narcissist' Leaders

AP

The "People's Pope" is living up to his name.

In a brutally frank interview published by Italian daily La Repubblica this week, Pope Francis revealed that he's unhappy with the "Vatican-centric view" taken by the Roman Catholic Church and with what he sees as the narcissism of some of its leaders. He wants change, he said, particularly in the way the Church serves the people of the world -- both Christians and non-Christians alike.

"The Church is or should go back to being a community of God's people, and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God," Francis told La Repubblica's Eugenio Scalfari, later adding: "Our goal [as Christians] is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love."

To achieve this level of inclusion, however, the pope said that the Holy See and the Catholic Church need to be reformed.

"Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy," Francis said, referring to the administrative body that serves the Holy See. "It is Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests. This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us. I do not share this view and I'll do everything I can to change it."

Read Pope Francis' full interview at La Repubblica.

On Tuesday, the pope took steps toward fulfilling this vow, as he opened a landmark meeting about reforming the Catholic Church and overhauling the Vatican bureaucracy. According to The Associated Press, Francis has convened a cabinet of eight cardinals from around the world for "three days of brainstorming on revamping the Vatican bureaucracy and other reforms."

Though any real change will likely take months, if not years, La Repubblica's Eugenio Scalfari, having concluded his interview with the pope, wrote that we may just be in store for a major transformation.

"This is Pope Francis. If the church becomes like him and becomes what he wants it to be, it will be an epochal change," he said.

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