Pope wants 'airport bishops' grounded

Pope Francis looks on during his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on Wednesday, Sept 18, 2013. Pope Francis on Thursday, Sept 19, 2013, lashed out at what he called the scandal of "airport bishops", urging his peers to
Pope Francis looks on during his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on Wednesday, Sept 18, 2013. Pope Francis on Thursday, Sept 19, 2013, lashed out at what he called the scandal of "airport bishops", urging his peers to remain rooted in their dioceses and spend less time seeking the spotlight. -- PHOTO: AP

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis on Thursday lashed out at what he called the scandal of "airport bishops", urging his peers to remain rooted in their dioceses and spend less time seeking the spotlight.

The Argentine pontiff, who is very attached to his title as Bishop of Rome, said residence in a diocese was "not only necessary for organisational purposes but had theological roots".

"You are betrothed to your community, deeply bound to it. I am asking you, please, to remain among your people," the Pope said at an audience of new bishops from around the world.

"You must stay, stay! Avoid the scandal of airport bishops," he said.

Bishops are often invited to attend international seminars and conferences, but Pope Francis voiced his indignation at reports of bishops who could never make time for their own flock.

"Careerism is a cancer," the Pontiff said, adding that some bishops trying to raise the profile of their diocese reminded him of those men "who are constantly looking at other women more beautiful than their own".

"Be welcoming pastors... journeying with your people," he said, urging the new bishops to keep their door open and phone close at hand.