Pope Francis is insisting that the Catholic Church shun all temptations of power, prestige and money as he presses his reform agenda amid new scandal in the Vatican.

Francis outlined his vision of the church on Tuesday in a lengthy speech to Italian bishops gathered in Florence. He told them he wanted a church that was humble and poor, not obsessed with doctrine or acquiring power.

He said: "May God protect the Italian church from every substitute of power, image and money."

He said Christians shouldn't be "obsessed with power even when it takes the shape of a power that is useful for the social image of the church."

Francis' visit comes as the Vatican is coping with revelations in two new books of continued internal resistance to his efforts to reform the Italian-dominated Vatican bureaucracy. A high-ranking Vatican monsignor and a laywoman have been arrested in a Vatican probe into leaked documents that formed the basis of the books.