Pope sets out vision for more modern Church
Francis calls for continuing reform and greater dialogue01 October, 19:12
(ANSA) - Rome, October 1 - It is time the Catholic Church picked up where it left off more than 40 years ago with the reforms that began under the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis said in an interview published Tuesday.
He also spoke out against youth unemployment, ill treatment of the elderly, and rampant self-centeredness in the interview with Rome-based daily La Repubblica.
Francis further pledged to address the treatment of women and their role in the Church in future, hinting that another media interview might be possible.
"Let me remind you that the Church is feminine," the pope said, playing on the gender of the word "church" - la chiesa - in Italian. "We will also speak (together) of the role of women in the Church," the pope promised.
Reform was high on the agenda during the wide-ranging interview with Eugenio Scalfari, the founder of Italy's largest left-leaning newspaper La Repubblica.
"Vatican II (1962-1965), inspired by Pope John XXII and Pope Paul VI, decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and open up to modern culture," the Argentine pontiff said. "The fathers of the council knew that opening up to the modern world meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers.
"After that, very little was done (to move further) in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do that".
Meanwhile, more must be done to deal with two of the world's biggest problems today: youth unemployment and the loneliness within the elderly, the pope said in the interview, which filled the first four pages of Tuesday's newspaper.
"The most serious evils that afflict the world are...youth unemployment and the solitude in which old people are left," Francis said.
He also criticized "wild liberalism" that only "makes the strongest stronger, the weakest weaker and the excluded more excluded".
The interview represented a highly unusual dialogue between an international religious figure and a self-proclaimed non-believer.
The pope told Scalfari, who confirmed he believes in a higher Being, that their beliefs are not very far from each other. "I believe in God," explained Francis. "Not in a Catholic God. No Catholic God exists. God exists.
And I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. "Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator. This is my Being," Francis added.
"Does it seem to you that we are very distant?" the pope asked. Francis reiterated that he wants to revamp the Vatican's financial and administrative bodies, which have been hit by a series of scandals.
He singled out the Roman Curia, the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, for criticism.
"The Curia... manages the services that the Holy See needs," he explained.
"But it has a fault: it's Vatican-centric. It sees and takes care of the interests of the Vatican, which are still mostly temporal interests.
"This Vatican-centric vision neglects the world that surrounds us," he added.
"I don't share this vision and I'll do all I can to change it". Francis also denounced staff he suggested were too absorbed with their own importance.
"The Church's chiefs are often narcissistic, flattered and badly encouraged by their courtesans," he said. "The court is the leprosy of the papacy".