France's collective mourning this past week over the slain staffers of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French weekly, rode on deep currents of religious solemnity: massive popular demonstrations, collective solemn silence, flickering candlelight and the tolling of bells. Some details, like the bells of Notre Dame and the dimmed lights of the Eiffel Tower, required official cooperation, but for the most part, the expressions of collective grief were natural outpourings of popular emotion.
Hours before Pope Francis was to arrive in Sri Lanka, people in Colombo were busy with final preparations for his "historic visit."
Essay: Nicaragua. Land of mountains, lakes and a necklace of volcanoes. Land of poverty and earthquakes. Land of revolution. Land of hopes and dreams.
This bank doesn't have a marble lobby or uniformed tellers. This bank is a faded blanket and a circle of women with their feet tucked under their colorful skirts.
The morning after 12 people were shot to death and 11 others injured at the Paris office of a satirical weekly newspaper, Pope Francis dedicated his early morning Mass to the victims and their families.
At the beginning of the Mass on Thursday, he told the small congregation that the attack Wednesday in Paris was a reminder of "the cruelty man is capable of. Let us pray at this Mass for the victims of this cruelty -- there are so many! And, we pray also for the perpetrators of such cruelty that the Lord will change their hearts."
An estimated 5,000 Yazidi women are being held as slaves by militants from the Islamic State group, Pope Francis was told when he met a top-level delegation of Yazidi leaders Thursday at the Vatican.
The delegation was led by Tahseen Said Al Baig, the Yazidis' secular leader, and Sheikh Kato, the group's supreme spiritual leader, or "Baba Sheikh," the Vatican said in a statement.
Yazidi officials from northern Iraq, Georgia and Germany were also among the delegation that met the pope for 30 minutes inside the Apostolic Palace.
Thousands of protesters flood the streets in Germany weekly to protest an influx of immigrants, many of them Muslim.
The Vatican is helping Catholic dioceses and agencies step up the fight against Ebola and is urging other donors to help.
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace announced Wednesday that the Holy See would be making a "financial contribution" to support church-sponsored assistance to those affected by the Ebola outbreak. Vatican Radio reported the sum would be $3.5 million.
From imprisonment to torture to beheadings, more Christians worldwide live in fear for their lives than at any time in the modern era.
Christian persecution reached historic levels in 2014, with approximately 100 million Christians around the world facing possible dire consequences for merely practicing their religion, according to the World Watch List, an annual report released Wednesday by Open Doors USA. If current trends persist, 2015 could be even worse.
Catholic leaders in the Central African Republic said their help for Muslim rebels is part of an effort to promote interreligious reconciliation in the war-torn country.
"We're ready to assist everyone in difficulty, whatever their faith or affiliation," said Msgr. Elysee Guedjande, national director of the church's Caritas aid organization.
"The two main fronts aren't only military forces -- they also consist of uprooted and dispossessed people who need to be listened to. The church will come to their aid where it can."