The group of cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Catholic church's central bureaucracy spent their latest meeting focusing on the roles of the Vatican offices that interact with foreign governments, oversee the church in missionary territories, consider which priests are appointed bishops, and work with Eastern rite churches.
Syria: Pope Francis urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to do everything possible to end the war in his country, to protect civilians and to ensure humanitarian agencies can deliver emergency aid to the people.Syria's SANA news agency reported Assad met Dec. 12 with new Cardinal Mario Zenari, the papal nuncio to Syria, and that the cardinal delivered a letter from the pope.
Bishop Javier Echevarria passed away Dec. 12: Pope Francis expressed condolences to the members of Opus Dei following the death of Bishop Javier Echevarria, who led the prelature for over 20 years. Expressing his condolences, Francis said Echevarria, like his predecessors, "gave his life in a constant service of love to the church and to souls."
Pope Francis phoned Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria Dec. 12, expressing condolences for the previous day's terrorist attack at the Cairo cathedral that left 25 dead.
Vatican: In 2017 World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis tells Christians: “Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence”
Pope Francis on priests: When a priest becomes a functionary, the pope said, "he ends up looking ridiculous. Always."
Feast of the Immaculate Conception: In the late afternoon of Dec. 8, Pope Francis made his traditional visit to a statue of Mary erected in the center of Rome, near the Spanish Steps, to celebrate the official church recognition that Mary was conceived without sin. Thousands of Romans and tourists crowded around the statue where people had been laying flowers all day. Early Dec. 8, Rome firefighters with a truck and ladder hung a wreath of white flowers from the outstretched arms of the statue.
Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis told the Belgian Catholic weekly newspaper Tertio that his exhortation on the family sprang from consultations with Catholics around the world and was thoroughly discussed by the bishops at the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family. Francis said that "everything in there was approved by more than two-thirds" of the synod members.
Pope Francis: Christian hope is not the same as being optimistic about the future, but is knowing that whatever dark or frightening things are going on in one's life, God is there offering protection and light, Pope Francis said during his general audience Dec. 7.
Vatican City: The updated 1985 guidelines insist that candidates for the priesthood learn how to be "shepherds 'with the smell of the sheep,' " and also highlights lessons learned from the sexual abuse scandal.