In his latest wide-ranging interview, Pope Francis said that he aimed to make the Catholic Church less "Vatican-centric" and closer to the "people of God," as well as more socially conscious and open to modern culture, reports the Catholic News Service.
He also revealed that he briefly considered turning down the papacy in the moments following his election last March, and identified the "most urgent problem" the church should address today as youth unemployment and the abandonment of elderly people.
The pope's remarks appeared in a 4,500-word interview, published yesterday in the Rome daily La Repubblica, with Eugenio Scalfari, a co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
Scalfari, an avowed atheist, publicly addressed the pope in a pair of articles on religious and philosophical topics over the summer, and Pope Francis replied in a letter that La Repubblica published on September 11. The journalist reported that the two met in person at the Vatican Sept. 24.
Their conversation touched on a range of topics, including economic justice, dialogue between Christians and nonbelievers, and reform of the Vatican bureaucracy. "Heads of the church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers," the pope said. "The court is the leprosy of the papacy."
Pope Francis said that the Roman Curia, the church's central administration at the Vatican, is not itself a court, though courtiers can be found there.
The Curia "has one defect," he said. "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."
Francis says Curia must be less 'Vatican-centric' (Catholic Herald)
Too much centralism in the Church, says Francis (Vatican Insider)
Francis outlines plan for reform (Sky News)