Pope Francis condemns 'leprosy' in Vatican

Pope Francis condemned "leprosy" in the Vatican and said the papacy was "too Vatican-centric" in an interview on Tuesday in which he also revealed he had briefly thought about turning down the nomination to be pope.

Speaking to Italian daily La Repubblica as he prepared to meet for the first time with a group of cardinals he has called to advise on reforms, the pope also called for the Church to engage more with the modern world.

"Leaders of the Church have often been Narcissuses, gratified and sickeningly excited by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy," Francis said.

The Holy See "is too Vatican-centric", he said.

Francis also said he briefly considered saying no to the papacy after being elected by his fellow cardinals at an historic conclave in the Sistine Chapel in March.

"Before accepting, I asked if I could retire for a few minutes in a room next to the one with the balcony over the square... I felt great anxiety," he said.

"I closed my eyes and all thoughts disappeared. Even the one about refusing to accept the nomination. At some point a great light filled me. It lasted a moment but for me it seemed a very long time," he said.