VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Friday decried how bishops and other clergy exploit their roles to advance their careers and to increase wealth, in his first public comments following the latest leaked revelations of greedy Vatican prelates resisting his efforts to reform Holy See finances and administration.
“Even in the church there are these people, who, instead of serving, of thinking, of others … use the church. They are the career-climbers, those attached to money,” the pope said during Mass in the chapel of the plain Vatican hotel where he chose to live, in an example of simplicity, instead of dwelling in the ornate Apostolic Palace.
Looking somber and sounding grim, he added: “And how many priests, bishops we have seen like this. It’s sad to say it, no?”
Francis delivered the impromptu remarks during his daily homily, apparently inspired by revelations in two books, which went on sale on Thursday, of leaked documents and conversations.
Three days ahead of the books’ publication, the Vatican announced that as part of its probe into leaked or pilfered documents and information, it had arrested a Vatican employee — a Spanish priest who had served on one of the pope’s reform panels — and an Italian laywoman, a publicist who had served on the same advisory panel.
The priest was being held in a Vatican jail cell, while the woman was released after interrogation because she is co-operating with the investigation, the Holy See said earlier this week.
Francis on Friday lamented that the church “so many times is business-deal-minded.”
With such a mentality, “one cannot say that this is a church that ministers, that is at service” to the faithful, he said, adding that instead “it is using others.”
Francis prayed that the church would be “saved from temptations.”
The books, by Italian journalists, detailed mismanagement and internal resistance to the reformist pope and prelates’ lavish spending, including for the Vatican’s saint-making bureaucracy and by cardinals with penchants for big, lavish apartments.
Francis, a Jesuit from Argentina, was a Vatican outsider who was elected in 2013 by his fellow cardinals with a mandate to clean house, especially the Holy See’s long murky financial dealings and bookkeeping and clubby administrative machine./ FRANCES D’EMILIO|Associated Press