Francis has told a group of cardinals that they must take up their duties as priests to the church’s cardinal signposts, as the pontiff seeks to restore order to the Church’s signposts and reignite his drive to restore the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s top administrative body.

Francis made the remarks in an address to the cardinals in Rome on Sunday, a day before the start of the Vatican-sponsored International Year of the Clergy.

“I am aware of the importance of the cardinal signs,” Francis said.

“I know that they are important, but I have to work with them.

They are the signs of the pope.

They must be taken up with the attention of those who work with the signposts.

He added: “If the cardinal sign was left untouched, then this would be a problem, because I would lose the ability to see, touch and feel these signs.”

The cardinal sign, the iconography of St. Peter, has come under scrutiny since Francis was elected pontiff in March.

He ordered the Vatican to stop using the symbols on official signs to mark the anniversary of the popes first election and to use the more traditional iconography for its official documents.

But he later said he would continue to use them.

The Pope has said he hopes to have the cardinal symbol replaced by the sign of St John the Baptist, a depiction of Jesus, in the new Vatican headquarters by the end of his term in 2019.