Pope Francis calls for radical reform of Church

Tuesday 26 November 2013 21.41
Pope Francis's publication has been described as a 'Magna Carta for reform'
Pope Francis's publication has been described as a 'Magna Carta for reform'

Pope Francis has called for radical reform of the Catholic Church and a shift of power away from the Vatican.

In his first major publication as Pontiff, he says he is open to suggestions about devolving some papal power and that the whole hierarchy needs to hear Christ's call to conversion.

He also warns that global economic inequality is bound to lead to conflict.

Pope Francis' first major solo work as pope has already been called "a Magna Carta for church reform".

He says the Church should not be afraid to re-examine customs that are not directly connected to the heart of the gospel, even some which have deep historical roots.

He criticises excessive centralisation for complicating the Church's life and her missionary outreach and says the Papacy and the rest of the hierarchy need to hear Christ's call to conversion.

The pope says Rome could learn lessons from the Orthodox Christian tradition such as its decentralised leadership.

He rejects the notion of a papacy that is expected "to offer a definitive or complete word on every question which affects the Church and the world".

All this indicates what he may be hearing from the group of eight diocesan cardinals from around the world who are drafting reforms of the highly centralised Vatican administration.

On his first week in office, Francis said he wanted "a poor church, a church for the poor".

Today, he says he prefers a Church that is "bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security".

He also goes further than previously in criticising the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money", and urging politicians to "attack the structural causes of inequality" and strive to provide work, healthcare and education to all citizens.

He asks the Lord to grant the world "more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society".

And he urges much closer relations between Catholics and other Christians and between Christians and Muslims, while urging the Islamic world to reciprocate goodwill and respect.