VATICAN CITY – The U.N. goodwill ambassador for eliminating leprosy has written to Pope Francis complaining about his recent comment that careerism among Catholic Church officials was "a leprosy."
In a letter to Francis released Thursday, Ambassador Yohei Sasakawa wrote that such remarks can reinforce discrimination against leprosy patients and their families. He said he feared the Argentine-born pope's comments could have a big impact in South America, "where there are many Catholics and still quite a few people affected by leprosy."
Sasakawa asked for an audience with the pope to update him on the fight against the disease.
Speaking on June 6 to students of the Vatican's diplomatic academy, Francis urged them not to become career-focused bureaucrats but to be missionary priests. He said: "Carreerism is a leprosy, a leprosy."