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The pope's comments appeared in Italian newspaper La Repubblica as he began a three-day meeting with cardinals to discuss reforms.
Pope Francis pulled no punches in an interview published Tuesday in which he condemned the “leprosy” in the Vatican and accused the papacy of being “Vatican-centric.”
Francis also criticized church leaders for being “gratified and sickeningly excited by their courtiers,” and vowed to change the narcissistic attitude.
Francis’s strongly worded comments appeared in Italian newspaper La Repubblica as he began a three-day meeting with eight cardinals from around the world to discuss reforms of the Vatican administration.
"Leaders of the Church have often been Narcissuses, gratified and sickeningly excited by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy," Francis, whose frugality has made headlines since he was elected pope in March, was quoted as saying.
"It looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, in large part temporal interests. This Vatican-centric vision neglects the world around it and I will do everything to change it."
Francis also revealed in the interview that he considered for a split second turning down the papacy after being elected by his fellow cardinals.
"Before accepting, I asked if I could retire for a few minutes in a room next to the one with the balcony over the square... I felt great anxiety," he was quoted as saying.
"I closed my eyes and all thoughts disappeared. Even the one about refusing to accept the nomination. At some point a great light filled me. It lasted a moment but for me it seemed a very long time."