A firefighter salutes after placing a wreath on a statue of Mary overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Rome's firefighters have observed the tradition every year since 1857.
VATICAN CITY — Although she was just a humble young woman from a small town, Mary's total "yes" to God was "the most important 'yes' of history" and overturned Adam and Eve's prideful "no," which unleashed sin into the world, Pope Francis said.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis pleaded with a group of billionaires to take seriously their personal obligation to share their resources and make a real commitment to doing business in a way that helps other people realize their potential, too. Monday, December 5, 2016
In his letter, Pope Francis said he formally was giving all priests permanent permission to grant absolution to those who confess to having procured an abortion. While many bishops around the world, and almost all bishops in the United States, routinely grant that faculty to all their priests, Pope Francis had made it universal during the Holy Year.
VATICAN CITY — Following Christ the King, whose regal power is love and mercy, means the whole church and each Christian must "follow his way of tangible love," Pope Francis said. Sunday, November 20, 2016
VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church's 17 new cardinals must dedicate their lives to being ministers of forgiveness and reconciliation in a world -- and sometimes a church -- often marked by hostility and division, Pope Francis said. Saturday, November 19, 2016
VATICAN CITY — Looking directly at thousands of homeless and marginalized persons, Pope Francis asked for their forgiveness for failures to recognize their dignity and alleviate their suffering. Sunday, November 13, 2016
MALMO, Sweden — Under a thick gray sky, Pope Francis was welcomed to Sweden with a small formal ceremony, which conveyed by its brevity that the trip was not a formal state visit, but had another purpose. Monday, October 31, 2016
VATICAN CITY — His toes curl in pain, his veins bulge from exertion, his bony chest heaves in the last throes of death. The newly restored 14th-century wooden crucified Christ "has been resurrected" from obscurity -- once caked over with dark paint and left forgotten behind an elevator shaft, said Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said he wanted his trip to Sweden to focus purely on promoting Christian unity, although in the end, he added a day to the visit so he could respond to the "fervent request" by the country's small Catholic community that he celebrate a Mass for them. Friday, October 28, 2016
VATICAN CITY — When a choir director and parish priest differ over liturgical music, the choir should follow in good faith the wishes of the priest for the sake of unity, said the papal liturgist. When it comes to celebrating the liturgy, "we should never fight," Msgr. Guido Marini told choir members, directors and priests. "Otherwise, we distort the very nature" of what the people of God should be doing during the Mass, which is seeking to be "one body before the Lord."
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis' recent insistence on "walking ecumenism," the notion that Christians will draw closer to each other as they work together to help the poor, should resonate well with Lutherans and Catholics in Sweden. Thursday, October 20, 2016
VATICAN CITY — Imitating Mary's life of humility and gratitude, men and women in the church must place complete trust in God's will and not in material possessions or intellectual prowess, Pope Francis said.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will conclude the Year of Mercy by creating 17 new cardinals, including three from the United States: Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago; Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life; and Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis.
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM AZERBAIJAN — Catholics who are homosexual, confused about their sexuality or convinced they were born in the wrong body deserve the same attentive pastoral care as anyone else, Pope Francis said. Monday, October 3, 2016
TBILISI, Georgia — Pope Francis said a global war against marriage is underway and Catholics must respond by helping couples stay strong and by providing pastoral care to those experiencing difficulty.
VATICAN CITY — With some stoic and others sobbing, survivors and family members of the victims of the July terrorist attacks in Nice met Pope Francis during a special audience at the Vatican. Monday, September 26, 2016
VATICAN CITY — In an effort to ensure transparency as well as historical and scientific accuracy, Pope Francis has approved revised norms for the Congregation for Saints' Causes regarding medical consultations on healings alleged to be miracles.
VATICAN CITY — Members of the pope's commission for child protection, including an abuse survivor, have been speaking with new bishops and major Vatican offices as part of a mandate to develop and educate the church about best practices. Monday, September 12, 2016
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Side by side in their formal dress uniforms, the commanders of the Swiss Guard and the Vatican police led their men and Vatican firefighters through St. Peter's Square and across the threshold of the jubilee's Holy Door.
VATICAN CITY — With a large tapestry bearing the portrait of the woman known as the "Saint of the Gutters" suspended above him, Pope Francis proclaimed the sainthood of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, hailing her courage and love for the poor. Sunday, September 4, 2016
VATICAN CITY — Turning your head away from the suffering of others is a grave sin, and simply saying some prayers or going to Mass does not make a good Christian of someone who ignores those in need , Pope Francis said.
VATICAN CITY — With psalms praising the marvels of God's creation and prayers begging God's help to end the selfishness that destroys the earth and harms the poor, Pope Francis led vespers for the Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After a strong earthquake struck central Italy and with the early news reporting many deaths and serious damage, Pope Francis turned his weekly general audience Aug. 24 into a prayer service.
DALLAS — The importance of the vocation of marriage and the family is at the core for the future of not only the Catholic Church, but of society, Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas said at a news conference Aug. 17. Thursday, August 18, 2016
VATICAN CITY — In a personal message addressed to each of the 10 members of the new Refugee Olympic Team, Pope Francis wished them success in their events and thanked them for the witness they are giving the world. Monday, August 8, 2016
ASSISI, Italy — Celebrating how God's mercy has been experienced for 800 years in a tiny stone church in Assisi, Pope Francis said people need to experience God's forgiveness and start learning how to forgive others. Thursday, August 4, 2016
KRAKOW, Poland — Take risks and do not let life's obstacles get in the way of encountering the true joy and life that Jesus can give, Pope Francis told more than 1 million young people. Monday, August 1, 2016
CZESTOCHOWA, Poland — God chose to manifest his power not by amazing feats of greatness but rather through small acts of humility, choosing to enter the world as a child born of a woman, Pope Francis said. Thursday, July 28, 2016
WASHINGTON — Recent comments by a high-ranking Vatican official have sparked questions about the direction priests should face while celebrating Mass, but the Vatican spokesman said Pope Francis has made it clear no changes are foreseen. Tuesday, July 12, 2016
VATICAN CITY — Mercy is not an abstract concept but a lifestyle that invites Christians to make an examination of conscience and ask themselves if they place the spiritual and material needs of others before their own, Pope Francis said. Thursday, June 30, 2016
VATICAN CITY — In his first public address in almost a year, retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his sincere gratefulness to Pope Francis, saying that his goodness "from the first moment of your election, in every moment of my life here, touches me deeply." Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Catholics and other Christians not only must apologize to the gay community, they must ask forgiveness of God for ways they have discriminated against homosexual persons or fostered hostility toward them, Pope Francis said. Monday, June 27, 2016
YEREVAN, Armenia — Applying the common faith they professed publicly earlier in the day, Pope Francis and Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Karekin II urged common action on behalf of persecuted Christians, welcome for refugees and defense of the family.
VATICAN CITY — Recognizing St. Mary Magdalene's role as the first to witness Christ's resurrection and as a "true and authentic evangelizer," Pope Francis raised the July 22 memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast on the church's liturgical calendar, the Vatican announced.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis told the heads of women's religious orders from around the world that he would set up a commission to study the New Testament deaconesses and he also insisted more can and should be done to involve lay and consecrated women in church decision-making at every level. Friday, May 13, 2016
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis receives countless gifts, but most do not require anything in return. However, at his audience with members of the military April 30, the pope received a small gift with a tradition — and obligation — attached. Tuesday, May 3, 2016
ROME (CNS) — After less than 48 hours in Rome, "dream" is the word used most often by the six Syrian adults Pope Francis brought back to Italy with him from a refugee camp in Greece. Wednesday, April 20, 2016
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Following is a series of quotes from Catholic leaders and observers reacting April 8 to the issuance of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "'Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), on Love in the Family": Monday, April 11, 2016
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — By using the tools of capitalism and the market effectively and ethically, the world can reach "full human flourishing and sustainable development," said Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Saturday, March 12, 2016
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The sexual abuse of minors and greed by members of the clergy have left Christians wounded, a Servite priest told the pope and Vatican officials during their Lenten retreat. Friday, March 11, 2016
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Speaking from the symbolic platform of the U.S.-Mexico border, Pope Francis pleaded for the plight of immigrants while warning those refusing to offer safe shelter and passage that their actions and inhospitable attitudes were bringing about dishonor and self-destruction as their hearts hardened and they "lost their sensitivity to pain." Thursday, February 18, 2016
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Pope Francis urged society to rethink its ideas of locking up inmates and throwing away the key, calling such an approach another symptom of the "throwaway culture" he often decries and "a symptom of a culture that has stopped supporting life, of a society that has abandoned its children."
SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS — Pope Francis warned against moves to diminish the importance of the family, peppering his talk with anecdotes and off-the-cuff remarks that kept a packed soccer stadium cheering, laughing and applauding. Tuesday, February 16, 2016
ECATEPEC, Mexico — Pope Francis began his travels to Mexico's "peripheries" by visiting an overcrowded, sprawling settlement known internationally as a hunting ground for girls to force into prostitution and for boys to enlist in the drug trade. Monday, February 15, 2016
Upon Pope Francis' arrival to meet with the members of Catholic Action's children's section (parish-based groups of young people from 4 to 14 years of age, spent the year on various projects that aided migrants in the Italian diocese of Agrigento), the youth sang "Happy Birthday" and presented him with a cake for his 79th birthday Dec. 17 during his traditional pre-Christmas audience with them. Thursday, December 17, 2015
VATICAN CITY — On a cloudy, damp morning, Pope Francis' voice echoed in the atrium of St. Peter's Basilica: "Open the gates of justice." With five strong thrusts, the pope pushed open the Holy Door, a symbol of God's justice, which he said will always be exercised "in the light of his mercy."
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Heads of states at the U.N. climate change conference in Paris must do everything possible to mitigate the effects of both climate change and poverty "for the good of our common home," Pope Francis said. Monday, December 7, 2015
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The usual fanfare that comes with the world premiere of a movie is pretty standard: the lights and cameras, the celebrities walking down the red carpet and screaming fans trying to catch a glimpse of their favorite actors.
At the Vatican, however, a movie premiere is not your typical star-studded event.
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM AFRICA (CNS) -- Pope Francis told reporters he is well aware that God is a god of surprises, but he had not been prepared for what a surprise his first visit to Africa would be. Tuesday, December 1, 2015
VATICAN CITY — Leaked and published information about Vatican financial problems and irregularities were already known and are the reason "measures have already been taken that have begun to bear fruit," Pope Francis said.
VATICAN CITY — While they did not grab headlines, the elderly and people with disabilities, openness to life and the plight of migrants and refugees were also on the agenda of the Synod of Bishops on the family.
VATICAN CITY — Observers told the Synod of Bishops on the family to discourage Christian women from marrying Muslim men, urge priests not to tell women to return to abusive husbands, share the truth of church teaching about marriage, and embrace single mothers who are alienated from the church.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Marist Poll survey commissioned by the Knights of Columbus found Pope Francis' favorability made significant gains among Catholics and among Americans overall in the wake of his Sept. 22-27 visit to the United States.
UNITED NATIONS — The information and services that space technology provides must be shared as much as possible by the countries of the world to reduce the risk that economic and social inequalities will widen, a Vatican official told the United Nations.
MEXICO CITY — The Mexican bishops’ conference and the Vatican have confirmed Pope Francis will visit Mexico in 2016, marking his first trip to this heavily Catholic country in throes of unrest over unresolved issues such as violence, crime and corruption. Wednesday, October 14, 2015
VATICAN CITY — As the discussion began at the world Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis urged members not to act as if the only question that mattered was the pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, his spokesman said.
VATICAN CITY — Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, said the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life.
VATICAN CITY — The world Synod of Bishops on the family is not a parliament where participants will negotiate or lobby, Pope Francis said, but it must be a place of prayer where bishops speak with courage and open themselves to "God who always surprises us."
After six days, Pope Francis left inspiration in his wake, changing the lives of hundreds of thousands who saw him in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. From the Speaker of the House youngsters who got a papal blessing and smile, a lot of Americans will never be the same.
NEW YORK (CNS) -- Honoring both the pain and the strength of the families of those who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11 and drawing on the pools of water that are part of the site's memorial, Pope Francis spoke about tears and quenching the world's longing for peace. "The water we see flowing toward that empty pit remind us of all those lives" lost in 2001, he said. "The flowing water is also a symbol of our tears. Tears at so much devastation and ruin, past and present." Friday, September 25, 2015
UNITED NATIONS — Dealing with war, development, the economy or environmental concerns, bureaucrats and diplomats always must remember that the lives of real children, women and men are at stake, Pope Francis told the United Nations. Friday, September 25, 2015
The pope's visit lasted about 15 minutes and he was unable to sit down for lunch in the makeshift dining center set up under a tent in front of Catholic Charities headquarters in downtown Washington. Thursday, September 24, 2015
WASHINGTON — The past, the promise and the potential of the United States must not be smothered by bickering and even hatred at a time when the U.S. people and indeed the world need a helping hand, Pope Francis told the U.S. Congress.
HAVANA — In a hot and steamy cathedral after listening to a Daughter of Charity talk about her work with people with severe disabilities, Pope Francis set aside his prepared homily and spoke about serving those the world considers "useless."
VATICAN CITY — Millions of Iraqis and Syrians are facing poverty and even death, neighboring countries are bearing more than their fair share of the burden of helping refugees, arms dealers are getting richer and the international community seems helpless, Pope Francis said.
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Pope Francis' visit to Cuba is a sign of his closeness to the nation's people at a time they "breathe the air of hope" that relations with the U.S. will improve, said Bishop Wilfredo Pino Estevez of Guantanamo-Baracoa.
VATICAN CITY — As Catholics joined others in protesting Israel's extension of its security wall, further dividing Palestinians and Israelis, Pope Francis gave Israeli President Reuven Rivlin a tangible sign of his hopes for peace.
VATICAN CITY — Selfishness and fear keep too many people ignorant of the suffering of others and prevent them from finding creative ways to express solidarity and to promote peace, said a statement from the Vatican's justice and peace office.
VATICAN CITY — Catholics who have divorced and are civilly remarried "are not, in fact, excommunicated — they are not excommunicated — and they absolutely must not be treated as if they were," Pope Francis said.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A broad digital media project to coincide with Pope Francis' visit this fall to the United States aims to recruit and interact with young people, particularly those who do not think of themselves as religious.
ASUNCION, Paraguay — Christians cannot force anyone to believe, but at the same time, no one can force Christians to stop being welcoming, loving and living in solidarity with others, Pope Francis said.
ASUNCION, Paraguay — Arriving in Paraguay July 10, Pope Francis paid tribute to the historic visit to the country made in 1988 by St. John Paul II, a visit many people saw as contributing to the end of one of the world's longest military dictatorships.
LA PAZ, Bolivia — Praising Bolivia's efforts to include all its citizens in the country's economic, political and social life, Pope Francis also defended the record and the right of the Catholic Church to be an active member of society and the right of the bishops to comment on public issues.
QUITO, Ecuador — Clergy and religious must remember that all they have is freely given by God and they must never forget where they came from, Pope Francis told sisters, priests, seminarians and bishops gathered July 8 at the El Quinche Marian shrine near here.
QUITO, Ecuador — Pope Francis' visit to a home for the destitute elderly in Quito was that of a pastor, but it was also a reminder of the lack of care and services for senior citizens in countries like this one, where the population is still mainly young.
QUITO, Ecuador — Catholics will never be effective evangelizers if they are squabbling among themselves, and they cannot show the world how faith in Christ responds to the human yearning for freedom and peace if they are divided, Pope Francis said. Tuesday, July 7, 2015
GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador — Even if a pastoral proposal for helping a Catholic family with problems seems scandalous at first, it is possible God could use that proposal to bring healing and holiness, Pope Francis said.
PHILADELPHIA — The first stop for Pope Francis when he visits Philadelphia the morning of Sept. 26 will be the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul to celebrate a special Mass for the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
QUITO, Ecuador — Although still thousands of miles from his birthplace in Argentina, Pope Francis made a homecoming of sorts July 5 when he landed in Ecuador, greeted by cheering crowds and the sights and sounds of South America. Sunday, July 5, 2015
VATICAN CITY — Harsh criticisms meted out by Pope Francis on free-market capitalism have sparked backlash from some fiscal conservatives and have led some people to call him "anti-capitalist" or even Marxist.
VATICAN CITY — In word and deed, Pope Francis will take his vision of a Catholic's approach to family life, parish life, charity, economics, immigration and good governance to Cuba and the United States during a Sept. 19-27 visit.
VATICAN CITY — The Holy See and Palestine have signed a historic agreement that supports a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict in the Holy Land, based on the 1967 borders between Israel and Palestine.
VATICAN CITY — It took place in silence and lasted only a few minutes, but Pope Francis' time of prayer and contemplation before the Shroud of Turin was marked with gestures of reverence and tenderness.