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Pope Francis issued a blistering critique Monday of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing some officials who some lust for power at all costs and suffer from "spiritual Alzheimer's" that has made them forget they are supposed to be joyful men of God.

The pontiff's Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalog of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the New Year. The pontiff lamented how the "terrorism of gossip" can "kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood"; how cliques can "enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body" and eventually kill it by "friendly fire"; and how some suffer from a "pathology of power."

Francis, the first Latin American pope, never worked in the Italian-dominated Curia prior to his election and has not shied from criticizing the gossiping and bureaucratic power intrigues that afflict the Holy See. But as his reform agenda gathers steam, he seems even more emboldened to highlight what ails the institution.


— Associated Press