Pope Francis has engaged many of the world’s Roman Catholics since his election in March with a humble pastoral approach and an emphasis on the poor and marginalized. But another top priority for this pope is something more internal to the Catholic Church – fixing the way the Vatican is run.
The Washington Post has reported that Francis plans to reduce the size of the Vatican government. That change would come on top of efforts the pope has made to reform the Vatican bank, which had been bogged down in corruption and scandal, and its diplomatic office, whose leader Francis replaced.
In a March 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 75% of U.S. Catholics said that reforming the Vatican bureaucracy should be an important priority for Pope Francis. One-in-three Catholics (35%) said reform should be a “top priority;” while 40% said it was important but a “lower priority;” 13% said it is not too important or unnecessary.
When asked about other issues that the pope should address, 70% of Catholics said the sexual abuse scandal should be a top priority. About half (49%) said standing up for traditional moral values should be a top priority, while 39% said this about spreading the Catholic faith and 36% said this about addressing the priest shortage.
Francis’s fellow cardinals elected him, in part, to tackle the problem of Vatican reform, and one month after his election, he chose eight cardinals from around the world to advise him in that process. That group met with the pope earlier this month for the first time. Francis is trying to reform the church outside of Rome, too. This week, he temporarily relieved a German bishop who is under scrutiny for lavish spending on his official church residence in Limburg.
NOTE: The headline of this post has been updated to clarify the timing of this survey. It was taken in March of 2013, before Pope Francis’s recent Vatican reforms.