Francis has called again for a more "incisive" presence of women in the leadership of the Catholic church, calling them akin to a "welcoming womb" but offering few specifics.
Homeless people in Rome will now have access to three new showers and a small barber shop in a space near St. Peter's Square, after construction of new facilities undertaken on the pope's behalf.
Completion of the work, which has captivated attention for its focus on the needs of Rome's poorest, was announced in a brief press statement Friday.
A two-day meeting in Rome next week of the world's Catholic cardinals will focus mainly on discussing reform of the church's central bureaucracy, the Vatican spokesman said Thursday.
Speaking to reporters briefly on a number of topics, Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi also said there was no other theme for the meeting, called by Pope Francis for Feb. 12-13.
A letter to the leaders of the world's bishops' conferences and the various Catholic religious orders asks them to cooperate fully with all initiatives to prevent sexual abuse of minors.
The Vatican has made a shift toward acceptance of more progressive views of the changes of Vatican II and its emphasis on a church for the poor.
The Vatican has not been untouched by the growing phenomenon of identity theft, drug trafficking, child pornography and people crossing international borders to launder money, said the Vatican's chief prosecutor.
Opening the new judicial year Jan. 30, Gian Piero Milano, the Vatican's chief prosecutor, presented a report on criminal activity and the court's work in 2014.
The Vatican Pontifical Council of Culture recently sparked controversy when the cover image for an online working document intended to advertise this week's annual plenary assembly in Rome on "Women's Culture: Equality and Difference" was Man Ray's 1936 sculpture, "Venus Restored," a plaster cast of a headless Venus bound in ropes.
With the new International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, Catholic leaders hope to draw attention to what many have called the modern slave trade.
Pope Francis faces criticism from those who say Serra -- called "the Columbus of California" -- abused Native Americans and pressured them to convert.
Pope Francis has formally declared that Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated as a martyr for the Catholic faith. His beatification is expected soon.