Almost every papal trip abroad is a complex mix of the religious and political, and that will be especially true of Pope Francis' Nov. 28-30 visit to Turkey.
Using a newly simplified rite, Pope Francis proclaimed six new saints and praised them for the love and self-giving with which they served God and built up his kingdom by serving the poor and needy.
Creating the two Indian and four Italian saints Sunday, the feast of Christ the King, the pope said, "They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and neighbor," dedicating themselves, "without holding back, to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims."
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.
Pope Francis called for greater acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorders and their families to break down the "isolation" and "stigma" that burdens them.
"Everyone should be committed to promoting acceptance, encounter and solidarity through concrete support and by encouraging renewed hope," the pope said Saturday during a meeting with people with autism disorders and their families, and with 700 participants in a three-day conference on autism and related disorders, organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.
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.
"These are matters that affect all families ... We want to focus next year not just on the neuralgic sexual issues that seem to dominate the American media."
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."
Prominent U.S. evangelicals Russell Moore and Rick Warren blasted the sexual revolution at a Vatican conference Tuesday, saying it is destroying the institution of marriage.
Moore, the public face of the Southern Baptist Convention, said sexual liberation had created "a culture obsessed with sex" that had simply led to a "boredom of sex shorn of mystery."
Migrants are among the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world, and a church committed to defending strong families must be particularly engaged in assisting migrant couples and their children, a U.S. bishop told a Vatican conference.
"Across the globe, 175 million migrants seek safety and sustenance in an unknown land," Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City told the Vatican-sponsored World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants.