No room for "careerists, social climbers," among clergy: Pope

Wed May 8, 2013 8:50am EDT
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis said on Wednesday that clergy who were "careerists" or "social climbers" were doing serious damage to the Catholic Church, his latest utterance aimed at instilling a sense of frugality and service in the Vatican and beyond.

Francis, 76, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, made the comments while addressing a gathering of superiors general of orders of nuns from around the world.

"Men and women of the Church who are careerists, social climbers, who use the people, the Church, brothers and sisters - those they should serve - as a springboard for their own ambitions and personal interests do great damage to the Church," he said.

"We learn poverty from the humble, the poor, the sick," he added, urging clergy to work with those on the margins of society and shun the "idols of materialism" that cloud the true meaning of life.

"We have no use for theoretical poverty," Francis said, departing from his prepared text.

Since his election on March 13, Francis has made it clear through his words and example that he wants clergy to live simpler lives, to serve the poor and shun temptations of power.

He has decided not to live in the spacious, luxurious papal apartments in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace used by his predecessors, opting instead for a small suite in a guest house, where he shares meals with other residents.

In his address, Francis appeared to be sending a message not only to priests, nuns and bishops around the world who serve the 1.2 billion-member Church, but also to bureaucrats in the Vatican itself.   Continued...

Pope Francis offers flowers to a statue of Our Lady of Lujan during his Wednesday general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini