Pope Francis is vowing to push ahead with moves to cleanse Church bureaucracy, amid scandals and charges of greed and corruption.
It came during traditional Christmas greetings to the Curia, the central Vatican administration.
“Some of these diseases have appeared during the course of the year, causing no minor suffering to the entire body and hurting many souls, even with scandals,” said Pope Francis.
This was an apparent reference to a current trial in the Vatican where five people, including two members of the Curia and two journalists, are charged with the theft of confidential papal documents.
The leaks were the basis of two books published last month that depicted a Vatican plagued by greed and graft and where the Pope faces stiff resistance to his reform agenda.
Pope Francis added: “The reform will move forward with determination, clarity and firm resolve because the church can always be reformed.”
The 79-year-old pontiff said he had flu and excused himself for reading the speech seated, though he showed no signs of illness and later stood to greet the dozens of officials.
At the same gathering last year, the Pope criticised the Curia, listing a catalogue of problems – including careerism and scheming. He said they had been infected with “spiritual Alzheimer’s.”