Pope Francis pledges to reform Vatican bureaucracy

Pope Francis holds his first meeting with a special group of cardinals to consider ways to reform the Vatican

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Pope Francis has held his first meeting with a special group of cardinals to consider ways to reform the Vatican.

The group, known as the Vatican G8, has been chosen from outside the Holy See's administration to ensure independence.

Made up of eight cardinals picked by Francis from around the world, the group is looking at ways to reshape the Roman Catholic Church's bureaucracy.

Francis said in a newspaper interview that the Vatican had become too self-interested and needed to be inclusive.

The Church's central administration has been hit by numerous scandals in recent years, with bishops around the world criticising it as autocratic and heavy-handed.

As the three-day talks got underway, Italy's La Repubblica newspaper printed an interview with Francis in which he spoke about problems facing the Vatican's administration.

In it he denounced its "Vatican-centric" attitude and conceded that his predecessors had been infatuated with the pomp of the Vatican and its "courtiers".

"The [papal] court is the leprosy of the papacy," he said.

"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."

'Spread love'

The group's main task is rewrite a 1998 constitution on the workings of the Holy See's various departments.

The BBC's David Willey, in Rome, said no immediate decisions were expected and the Pope himself admits change will take time.

In the La Repubblica interview, Francis said he wanted a missionary church like that sought by his namesake, St Francis.

"We need to give hope to young people, help the aged and open ourselves toward the future and spread love," he said.

Meanwhile, the Vatican bank, which has been accused of turning a blind eye to allegations of money laundering by a few account holders and is currently the subject of a radical makeover ordered by Francis, has issued its first ever detailed accounts.

The bank, known as the the Institute for Religious Works, reported net profits of 86.6m euros, quadruple those of the previous year.

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