Future pope condemned 'careerism' in Catholic Church

Pope Francis, when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Bergoglio, condemned "careerism" in the Roman Catholic Church in a book of interviews, according to extracts published on Thursday from an Italian translation due out this month.

"When the pope was a terrestrial and spiritual king, the intrigues of the court got mixed up with everything else. But are they not still getting mixed up?" he was quoted as saying in 2010 in the extracts published by Italian newsweekly Panorama.

"Yes, all this is still happening because there are the ambitions of men of the Church, there is unfortunately the sin of careerism," he said.

The book "Between Heaven and Earth" is a combination of interviews with Bergoglio and his friend Abraham Skorka, who is also from Buenos Aires and is rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in the Argentine capital.

Bergoglio also outlined his vision of religious leadership -- a precursor to the humble style he has shown in his first days of pontiff.

"When a priest is head of a diocese or a parish, he has to listen to his community to mature decisions and guide it on its path. When he imposes himself and says in some way 'I give the orders' he falls into clericalism," he said.

Bergoglio also said that the Church should "dialogue" with political life but be careful not to take sides and do "underhand deals" with politicians.

"Whatever a religious minister does is a political act but some also get mixed up with politics," he said, distinguishing between a narrow and a wider interpretation of the word "politics".

"Religion is a treasure at the service of the people but if it starts getting mixed up with politics and imposing things in an underhand way then it becomes an instrument of nefarious power."

Bergoglio also referred to St Francis of Assisi, the mediaeval Italian saint he named himself after.

Francis "brought to Christianity a way of perceiving with respect to the luxury, pride and vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time," he said.

"He changed history," the then archbishop said.