Pope Francis has called for power in the Catholic Church to be devolved away from the Vatican, in the first major work he has written since his election in March this year. In his first Apostolic Exhortation dated November 24, the Argentine born Pontiff says he is open to suggestions to changes in the power of the papacy.
In his first Apostolic Exhortation dated November 24, the Argentine born Pontiff says he is open to suggestions to changes in the power of the papacy. In the current set up, each of the more than 2,200 dioceses in the world reports directly to the Vatican, something that the Pope has criticized for unnecessary bureaucracy.
In his document, Francis also warns that rising global economic inequality is bound to explode in conflict. In his document, Francis also warns that rising global economic inequality is bound to explode in conflict. He attacks unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality.
The 84-page document is seen as an official platform for his papacy. He criticizes the global economic system, attacking what he calls the "idolatry of money”, calling politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare".
He also calls on rich people to share their wealth.
Since replacing Pope Benedict XVI in March, Francis has struck a markedly different tone to his predecessor on several issues. He has advocated for a “poor church for the poor” and accused the Church for what he called obsession with anti-gay and anti-abortion debates.
Last month, the Pope suspended Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of the Diocese of Limburg in Germany for being extravagant. The bishop was accused of spending more than 42 million Dollars on renovating his official residence.
In the same month, Francis held his first meeting with a special group of cardinals to consider ways to reform the Vatican bureaucracy after saying in a newspaper interview that the Vatican had become too self-interested and needed to be inclusive.
He emphasizes his position in the latest document by saying excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church's life and her missionary outreach.
Pope Francis now 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".
The document suggests major changes are on the way, with Francis noting that the Church has to get over the conservative attitude.
Francis however, reiterates the Church's opposition to the ordination of female priests, saying this is "not a question open to discussion".
The document also touches on inter-faith relations, urging Christians to embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants in the same way that Christians hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition.
He also says he does not believe that the papacy "should be expected to offer a definitive or complete word on every question which affects the Church and the world".