What was it like to be in that crowd during the canonizations, ministering to the people, especially those who were farthest away?
The number of Catholics in the world and the number of priests, permanent deacons and religious men all increased in 2012, while the number of women in religious orders continued to decline, according to Vatican statistics.
The number of candidates for the priesthood also showed its first global downturn in recent years.
The statistics come from a recently published Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which reported worldwide church figures as of Dec. 31, 2012.
As Vatican representatives prepare to testify before a United Nations inquiry into torture next week, a senior official warned investigators that it would be "deceptive" to link torture with the pedophilia scandals that have swept the Catholic church.
The Vatican's chief spokesman, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, said Friday that the Convention Against Torture, endorsed by the Vatican in 2002, was one of the most important in the U.N.'s ambit.
Q and A: Pope Francis has opened up new opportunities for the Catholic church and has allowed for a "fresh sharing" of the faith, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori said.
Pope Francis reiterated his strong opposition to abortion on April 25, saying it "compounds the grief of many women" already succumbing to what he called the "pressures of secular culture."
The pope's remarks, to a group of bishops from South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland, represented a departure of sorts for Francis, who has kept a relative silence on the issue as he tries to redirect the church's energies toward combating poverty and income inequality.
There are at least three reasons Pope Francis may be amenable to the debate on whether to allow married men into the priesthood.
The double canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II is an interesting statement on the position Pope Francis finds himself in with respect to church politics.
Ahead of Pope Francis' first meeting with his panel charged with tackling the clergy abuse scandal, victims are demanding the church take immediate action to expose perpetrators.
Analysis: A three-word tweet from Pope Francis about inequality left some conservatives dazed and confused over Catholic teachings on economics.
In its previous meetings, the Council of Cardinals has reviewed the work of Vatican congregations. The council will now shift its attention to studying the Vatican's 12 pontifical councils.