The appointment fills what had been an unusually long vacancy among the Vatican's highest offices and elevates Sarah to the most senior African prelate in the church's governance.
NCR Today: Pope Francis is moving ahead with plans to reform the Curia, meeting Monday with the heads of each of the Vatican's various departments to discuss pending changes.
NCR Today: The canonization rite reformed by Pope Paul VI but set aside by Pope Benedict XVI has been returned by Pope Francis for the canonization of six saints Sunday.
Like many Catholic parishes, the Vatican has turned to a raffle to raise money; the difference is, though, the prizes are items originally given as gifts to Pope Francis.
For 10 euros -- about $12.50 -- anyone can go to the Vatican post office or pharmacy and buy a chance to win a Fiat Panda 4x4, a small SUV "fully loaded" with every option available, the Vatican said. Tickets are not for sale on the Internet or anywhere outside Vatican City.
South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier at one point said the 2014 event had put Catholic prelates in "a position that is virtually irredeemable."
Q and A: "In my judgment, there never has been an infallible church teaching on a specific moral issue," Fr. Charles Curran says.
Within weeks, the Vatican said in a statement Thursday, bishops' conferences around the world will be receiving preparatory documents for the 2015 synod.
In what the Vatican bank described as recognition that it has established serious measures to prevent money laundering, it announced the Italian government has promised to return 23 million euros (U.S. $29 million) that had been blocked for more than three years.
Even though the Italian government in 2011 said it was releasing the funds, the Italians believed "issues regarding customer due diligence remained unsolved" and so held on to the funds, said a statement Tuesday from the Institute for the Works of Religion, the formal name of what is commonly called the Vatican bank.
All Christians are called to holiness and to take even little steps each day to be more loving and more Christ-like, Pope Francis said.
"Some think that holiness is closing your eyes and making the face of a plastic statue, but that's not holiness," the pope said Wednesday at his weekly general audience.
Holiness is something much greater, much more profound than looking like an image on a holy card, he said. "It is living with love and offering your own Christian witness in your daily tasks."
"It's not new for us. ... It's not a revolution. It's an affirmation of various intuitions of the church in Asia and of the universal church."