Pope Francis has issued the mission statement for his papacy, outlining how the Catholic Church and the papacy itself must be reformed to create a more merciful church that is more engaged in helping the needy.

In the 85-page document, issued on Tuesday, Pope Francis pulled together the priorities he has laid out in months of speeches and interviews.

He explained his most controversial remarks criticising the church's “obsession'' with transmitting a disjointed set of moral doctrines, saying that in the church's “hierarchy of truths,'' mercy is paramount, proportion is necessary, and that what counts is inviting the faithful in.

Francis cited Vatican II documents calling for a more decentralised church authority, saying power should be devolved away from the Vatican, and said he too must rethink the papacy in order to achieve the goals of spreading the faith.

Papal overhaul

Francis is currently overseeing an overhaul of the Vatican's dysfunctional administration, but he said that he was "open to suggestions'' about how to change the very nature of the papacy and its relation to the world's bishops conferences, to make the papacy reflect better what Jesus intended and what the church needs today.

"Excessive centralisation, rather than proving helpful, complicates the church's life and her missionary outreach,'' he said.

He went even further, saying some of the church's historical customs can even be cast aside if they no longer serve to communicate the faith.

 “I do not want a church concerned with being at the centre and then ends up by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.''

He said their greatest concern must be the poor and marginalised, since they are victims of an unjust, global economic system that prizes profit over people. 

Source: AFP