Pope denounces 'cancer' of cliques, ambition in Vatican

Pope Francis has once again used a Christmas greeting to dress down some in the Vatican, denouncing the "cancer" of cliques and how bureaucrats can become "corrupted" by ambition and vanity.

Francis acknowledged Thursday that there were plenty of competent, loyal and even saintly people who work in the Holy See. But he also said there were others who had been chosen to help him reform the Vatican and weren't up to the task.

When these people are then "delicately" removed, he said "they falsely declare themselves martyrs of the system, of an 'uninformed pope' or the 'old guard,' when in fact they should have done a mea culpa."

Francis has a tradition of giving the Curia a tough-love Christmas greeting, inviting Vatican bureaucrats to a Jesuit-style examination of conscience.