Pope urges reform as landmark meeting opens


Associated Press

VATICAN CITY

Pope Francis says he doesn’t want a “Vatican-centric” church concerned about itself but a missionary church that reaches out to the poor, the young, the elderly and even to non-believers. That’s the vision he laid out as he opened a landmark meeting Tuesday on reforming the 2,000-year-old institution.

Francis convened the inaugural meeting of his eight cardinal advisers for three days of brainstorming on revamping the antiquated Vatican bureaucracy and other reforms. The move fulfills a key mandate of the cardinals who elected him: They wanted a pope who would involve local church leaders in helping make decisions about the 1.2-billion strong church.

The closed-door meeting got underway against the backdrop of one of the most tangible signs that change is afoot: The secretive Vatican bank, under investigation over possible money-laundering by Italian prosecutors, released its annual report Tuesday.

Francis has formed a commission of inquiry to look into the Vatican’s overall financial health, but his decision to name the eight cardinals from around the world as a permanent advisory panel represents the most-significant sign that he wants to shake things up.

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