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Pope Francis Catholic church leader says 'Vatican is sick with power and greed'

Reports say it was the power struggle and leaks within the Italian-dominated Curia, that is widely responsible for Benedict XVI's decision in 2013 to become the first pope in six centuries to resign

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Leader of the Catholic church, pope Francis has openly criticized Vatican's top administrators at their annual Christmas meeting.

The pontiff was said to have told priests, bishops and cardinals who run the Curia, the central administration of the Roman Catholic Church, that careerism, scheming and greed had infected them with "spiritual Alzheimer's".

Reports say it was the power struggle and leaks within the Italian-dominated Curia, that is widely responsible for Benedict XVI's decision in 2013 to become the first pope in six centuries to resign.

"The Curia needs to change, to improve ... a Curia that does not criticise itself, that does not bring itself up to date, that does not try to improve, is a sick body," he said in a somber address.

He was reported to have listed no fewer than 15 "sicknesses and temptations", from the "spiritual Alzheimer's" of those who had become enthralled by worldly goods and power to the "existential schizophrenia" of those who had succumbed to a joyless, hard-hearted mindset.

Francis said some in the Curia acted as if they were "immortal, immune or even indispensable", referring  to retired cardinals who remain in the Vatican and continue to exert influence.

He told his audience that too many of them suffered from "rivalry and vainglory"; superiors favoured protégés and underlings depend on bosses to further careers; others fed gossip or false information to the media.

But the pope did finish on a criticizing note. Before wishing them all a Happy Christmas, Francis urged the Vatican's administrators to be more joyful, saying how much good a "dose of humour" could do.

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