In his annual Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis urged the congregation to embrace the process of reform.

"The absence of reaction is a sign of death! Consequently, the good cases of resistance — and even those not quite so good — are necessary and merit being listened to, welcomed and their expression encouraged," Francis told the Roman Curia, on Thursday, 22 December.

"There are also cases of malicious resistance, which spring up in misguided minds and come to the fore when the devil inspires ill intentions (often cloaked in sheep's clothing).

"The reform does not have an aesthetical end to make the Curia more beautiful; it cannot be understood as a sort of face-lift or applying makeup to beautify the elderly curial body, nor plastic surgery to remove wrinkles," he added.

He warned the congregation that advancing individuals to positions in order to make them less of a threat, was "a cancer".

"Dear brothers,' the leader of the Catholic Church added, 'it's not wrinkles the church should fear, but stains."

This is the third time the pontiff has used his Christmas speech to warn the Curia against putting personal ambition above that of the Church.

In his speech, the Pope went on to offer his tips for office management, which included involving more women and lay people in the various roles within the Vatican. He also stressed the need for multiculturalism.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis gives his Christmas address before the Roman Curia REUTERS/Gregorio Borgia/Pool