Pope Francis is urging his cardinals to cooperate with his reform of the outdated and dysfunctional Vatican bureaucracy, saying the overhaul will help him govern the 1.2-billion-strong Catholic Church better and spread the faith more effectively.

Francis summoned cardinals from around the world to hear proposals for revamping the church's central government. The proposals include merging offices and reducing waste.

Opening the meetings Thursday, Francis said the aim was to encourage greater harmony and collaboration in "absolute transparency," to help the church spread the faith and reach out to others.

Francis, who was elected on a reform mandate, made clear what he felt was wrong with the Vatican Curia last December, when he ticked off 15 ailments that can afflict its members, including "spiritual Alzheimer's" and the "terrorism of gossip."