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Pope Francis Criticizes Vatican Gossip And Bureaucracy

The Pontiff's Christmas greetings didn't carry the usual festive tone.

Posted on December 22, 2014, at 9:21 a.m. ET

Pope Francis talks during an audience for Christmas greetings to the Curia.
Pool / Reuters

Pope Francis talks during an audience for Christmas greetings to the Curia.

In his Christmas greetings to cardinals, bishops, and priests, Pope Francis did not echo the usual festive tone of the holiday. Instead, the Pontiff used his Monday morning address to issue a harsh critique of the Vatican's bureaucracy and culture of gossip.

The Pope denounced officials who lust for power and suffer from "spiritual Alzheimer's" that has caused them to forget they are men of God, according to the Associated Press. He listed 15 sins of the Curia, complete with footnotes and Biblical references, which he said he hoped would be addressed in 2015.

Francis did not shy away from complaining about the Vatican's legendary gossip and bureaucracy, saying the "terrorism of gossip" can "kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood." He added that cliques can "enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body" and eventually kill it by "friendly fire."

The cardinals, bishops, and priests in the audience did not seem amused. His speech was meet with lackluster applause, according to the Associated Press.

Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters

Pope Francis' speech comes about one month after he demoted a conservative U.S. cardinal who had stymied the Pontiff's efforts to modernize the church. Cardinal Raymond Burke was sidelined as the head of the Vatican's highest court, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, after he led a conservative bloc to appose the pope's plan for the Church to adopt a more welcoming approach to gays and lesbians.

Burke had been vocal in his criticism of the pope. In an interview with BuzzFeed News, he criticized the pope's reform plans.

"The pope, more than anyone else as the pastor of the universal church, is bound to serve the truth," Burke said. "The pope is not free to change the church's teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith."

Pope Francis concluded his speech on Monday by asking the prelates to pray that the "wounds of the sins that each one of us carries are healed."