Pope Francis began closed-door talks Tuesday with eight cardinals from around the world in an effort to reform the Vatican and change the Catholic church worldwide.
Pope Francis, in an interview with Italy's largest daily newspaper, gave an unvarnished assessment of the church and what needs to be done to make it more progressive.
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In his interview with La Repubblica, Pope Francis said the church
looks to serve its own needs at times instead of its parishioners'. The church needs to focus more on the poor and the elderly.
"Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers," Pope Francis said. "The court is the leprosy of the papacy."
Pope Francis said church leaders have become "Vatican-centric" in their views the world, often losing sight of the greater issues that affect church followers.
"This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us," Pope Francis said. "I do not share this view and I'll do everything I can to change it. 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."
Pope Francis said he believes the world's greatest challenges are youth unemployment and care for the elderly. He said young people can easily lose hope without the ability to take part in society, while the elderly are being forgotten.
"The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don't even look for them anymore," Pope Francis told the Italian newspaper. "You tell me: Can you live crushed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing."
Reuters reported the cardinals meeting Pope Francis for the three-day conference include Boston's Sean Patrick O'Malley, along with Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras; Giuseppe Bertello of Italy; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Chile; Oswald Gracias of India; Reinhard Marx of Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of The Congo; and George Pell of Australia.
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