Pope warns new cardinals against 'intrigue, favouritism'

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis, who has made simplicity and serving the poor the distinguishing characteristics of his papacy, on Sunday told the 19 newly appointed cardinals to shun intrigue, gossip and cronyism.

"A Cardinal ... enters the Church of Rome, my brothers, not a royal court," the pope said during a mass attended by the cardinals named on Saturday.

"May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and partiality." The admonition came as Francis is seeking to refashion the image of the Roman Catholic Church, plagued by financial scandals and accusations of covering up child abuse by priests.

A council of cardinals, set up by Francis to advise him on Vatican reforms, on Tuesday heard a report to reform the Vatican bank and on Wednesday it discussed organisational and economic programmes.

"We love ... those who are hostile to us; we bless those who speak ill of us; we greet with a smile those who may not deserve it," the pontiff told the newest members of the College of Cardinals on Sunday.

"We do not aim to assert ourselves; we oppose arrogance with meekness; we forget the humiliations that we have endured." Francis chose not to move into the official Vatican apartments reserved for the head of the Catholic Church after he took over almost a year ago in a sign of his emphasis on simplicity.

During his traditional general audience on February 12 he had also asked the faithful to stop "twaddling" after Mass, and to stop disrespectfully commenting on the way people dress.

"Sometimes this is done, and it shouldn't be done," he had said.

"My brother Cardinals, Jesus did not come to teach us good manners, how to behave well at the table! "To do that, he would not have had to come down from heaven and die on the Cross," said Francis.

Sunday's Mass was held after a meeting of cardinals from around the world - known as a consistory - to discuss family issues on Thursday and Friday.

On Saturday, Francis formally appointed the 19 new cardinals - the first of his pontificate.

Nine of the 19 cardinals came from South America, Africa and Asia, a decision that Vatican observers say should help correct a perceived bias towards European cardinals.

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