VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) - Pope Francis, starting two days of closed-door meetings with the world's Roman Catholic cardinals, on Thursday called for greater efficiency and transparency in the Church's troubled central administration, the Curia.
Francis was elected in 2013 with a mandate from the cardinals who chose him to reform the Curia, and has made plain his determination to bring the Church's hierarchy closer to its 1.2 billion members.
In brief, public comments before the meetings started, he said Church administrators should strive for "greater harmony in work of the various departments and offices, in order to realise a more efficient collaboration based on absolute transparency".
The Italian-dominated Curia's power struggles and leaks were widely held responsible for Benedict XVI's decision two years ago to become the first pope in six centuries to resign.
Last December, Francis delivered a stinging critique of the priests, bishops and cardinals who run the Curia, saying that careerism, scheming and greed had infected them with "spiritual Alzheimer's".
The cardinals are the pope's closest collaborators in Rome and around the world, and were in Rome for a ceremony on Saturday to induct 20 new "princes of the church".
The closed-door meetings, known as an extraordinary consistory, were due to hear reports on Vatican finances and on the worldwide crisis involving sexual abuse of minors by clerics, as well as Francis's project to reform the Curia.
Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa, a member of a council advising the pope on economic reforms, told the Catholic News Service on Wednesday that the group had run into resistance from some departments that had earlier enjoyed financial autonomy.
In November, the Vatican issued all departments with a manual on economic ethics and accountability as part of Francis'effort to clean up the Holy See's finances after a rash of scandals.