But for the tragedy in the Philippines, 2013 is ending as a quiet year for humanitarian events, right? Not necessarily.
Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila has called Filipino Catholics to observe a "Christmas of solidarity and communion" through soul searching and spiritual transformation.
Latin-rite Patriarch Faoud Twal of Jerusalem told reporters he expected to host Pope Francis on a visit to the Holy Land in May.
Listing "upcoming events for next year," Twal began with "the pope's visit to the Holy Land planned for next May, first in Jordan, then in Israel-Palestine."
Following "appropriate diplomatic channels," the Vatican's nuncio to Australia on Dec. 6 turned over requested documents to a state sex abuse commission.
Church initiatives to promote peace among Kenya's Turkana and Pokot communities are vital to easing simmering conflicts over recently discovered oil deposits and continuing tensions over grazing lands and access to water, said the apostolic nuncio to the East Africa nation.
The Ma'an lil-Hayat workshop is in full swing as adults shape felted wool into round balls for a large order of sheep to fill people's Nativity scenes.
Ma'an lil-Hayat -- Arabic for "Together for Life" -- is part of the international L'Arche network founded in 1964 by Canadian Catholic Jean Vanier for people with intellectual disabilities. The workshop takes a local resource closely associated with the Christmas story -- sheep wool -- and uses it to bring dignity and recognition to a population often overlooked in Palestinian society.
The Nov. 22 meeting between President Barack Obama and Morocco's King Mohammed VI was a bitter disappointment for supporters of human rights.
Copies of correspondence show the papal nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, claimed diplomatic immunity in response to repeated requests for archival documentation.
The diocese of San Isidro publicly apologized for the actions of Fr. Jose Mercau, a priest sentenced to 14 years in jail in 2006 for sexually abusing of four children.
"The San Isidro diocesan community, and especially the bishop and priests, publicly apologize to the young victims who were affected by the conduct of a priest within our diocese, Father Jose Mercau, when he was a priest at St. John the Baptist Church," said the document signed by Bishop Oscar Ojea and read at diocesan Masses Dec. 14-15.
The snowstorms and torrential rain that battered the Middle East in mid-December threatened to make this Christmas season an especially difficult one for Christians in Gaza.
Matthew McGarry, Catholic Relief Services' country representative, described the situation as "quite bad."
"There is extensive damage to infrastructure, and we haven't been able to get our staff in until today," McGarry told Catholic News Service on Tuesday. "We are targeting the most vulnerable families."
Many schools remained closed because of structural damage, he added.