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Shun gossips, cliques of royal court: Pope tells cardinals

Pope Francis urged cardinals, who make up the top echelon of the Roman Catholic Church, on Sunday to shun the intrigue, gossip and cliques typical of a royal court.

Since his election nearly a year ago, Francis has often told his top aides not to live or behave like a privileged class. The eight-year papacy of his predecessor, Benedict, was marked by mishaps and missteps, which were often blamed on a dysfunctional Vatican bureaucracy and intrigue befitting a Renaissance court.

On Sunday, Francis celebrated a mass with 18 of the 19 new cardinals who were elevated to that rank on Saturday. One could not attend because of illness.

‘A cardinal enters the Church of Rome, not a royal court,’ Francis said in his sermon, welcoming the men into the elite group that help him run the Church in the Vatican and around the world.

‘May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and preferences,’ he said during a solemn ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica.

‘Jesus did not come to teach us good manners or to behave as if we were at a social gathering,’ Francis told them.  It was the second consecutive day that Francis had warned cardinals to shun worldly temptations in the corridors of clerical power, either at home or in the nerve centre of the 1.2 billion-member Church.

At the induction ceremony on Saturday, which was attended by ex-pope Benedict, Francis urged the cardinals to avoid rivalries and factions. It was the first time Francis and Benedict, who resigned on 28 February, 2013, had been together for a liturgical celebration.
The ‘Vatileaks’ scandal, in which Benedict's butler was arrested for leaking the pope's private papers to the media, alleged corruption in the Holy See, something the Vatican denied.

United in simplicity and service, he asked the new cardinals to remain united among themselves and with him as they advise and help him run the Church in the Vatican and beyond in a spirit of simplicity and service.
Later, addressing tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square for his Sunday blessing, Francis said Catholic leaders should ‘not consider themselves holders of special powers or bosses, but place themselves at the service of the community’.
They should be ‘good servants, not good bosses,’ he said.  Since his election last March as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, Francis has attempted to infuse the Vatican and the Church with his simple style.
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