Pope Francis made a surprise visit to the place where his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, created the world's first Nativity scene in Greccio. The pope used a free day.
Pope Francis erected a new Syro-Malankara eparchy for the United States and Canada. The pope also named Bishop Thomas Eusebios Naickamparambil as its first bishop.
Over 3.2 million pilgrims visited the Vatican in 2015 and attended papal events, liturgies or prayer services, the Vatican said. The statistics were compiled by Prefecture of the Papal Household.
NCR Today: Pope Francis called on Christians to take time during the continuing Christmas season to contemplate the mystery of the child Jesus.
Pope Francis asked for prayers and action concerning the plight of Cuban migrants, a rebel attack in the Philippines, and a deadly gas explosion in Nigeria.
"Only God's mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst," the pope said Dec. 25.
Pope Francis has been given the award in recognition of his efforts at global peace and cross-cultural understanding.
Pope Francis appointed a U.S. media adviser as vice director of the Vatican press office and an Irish prelate as bishop and adjunct secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
An autopsy revealed the ex-papal nuncio, laicized former archbishop, Jozef Wesolowski, awaiting trial on charges including the sexual abuse of minors, died of a heart attack, the Vatican said.
Pope Francis has asked ambassadors accredited to the Vatican to encourage non-violent reactions to recent acts of terrorism and war, and has said he opened the Jubilee year of mercy partly to try and encourage efforts to stop violent conflict through reconciliation.
In an audience with four new Vatican ambassadors Thursday, the pontiff that this year “was unfortunately marked by a multiplication of violent conflicts, whether war or terrorism.”