The pope said that amid "the noise, the confusion," one hears "only superficial voices." During the retreat "we can listen to the voice of Jesus and also correct so many defects we all have," he said.
Inviting prayers, Francis said the time away from the Vatican will also help participants "face the temptations that attack us every day."
He didn't list the "defects" he says needs fixing. But in the nearly two years since becoming pontiff, Francis has put prelates on guard against careerism, arrogance, hypocrisy, corruption and being too judgmental instead of merciful.
Francis said "spiritual conversion and growth starts from the heart. It's there that the match of daily choices between good and evil, worldliness and Gospel, indifference and sharing gets played."
The Catholic church encourages spiritual renewal in Lent, when faithful prepare for Easter, which this year falls on April 5.
The retreat means Francis won't hold his traditional weekly public audience on Wednesday.
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