Analysis: Next month, Pope Francis will create at least 14 new cardinals. Where will they come from? Latin America? The Curia?
John L. Allen Jr.: At least eight papal storylines worth noting emerged between Jan. 1 and Jan. 6, typically a dead period in the Vatican.
Real life does not often generate an experiment to settle a historical debate, but Italian politics may create a chance to shed light on a biographical question about Pope Francis.
By comparison, during the year following the election of Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005, more than 4 million people attended papal events.
After the historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and a series of innovations by Pope Francis, it is hard to imagine 2014 could be nearly as eventful.
Officially speaking, the Vatican doesn't do much to mark a pope's birthday. Unofficially, however, Francis marked the period around his 77th birthday Dec. 17.
As 2013 reached an end, Pope Francis’ burgeoning following on Twitter crossed the 11 million mark, taking all nine of his accounts in different languages into view. Spanish leads the way, with four and a half million pope followers, while English was in second place with three and a half million.
Given the wide popularity of the new pope, the fact that he’s now the most followed religious figure in the Twitter universe, surpassing the 8.2 million who follow the Dali Lama, is probably no real surprise.
Every so often a day rolls around that seems to perfectly sum up the arc of a story, and Saturday, Dec. 21, felt like one of those days in Pope Francis' ongoing reform campaign.
To set the scene, Francis had two big appointments on his calendar Dec. 21: the pope's annual year-end address to the Roman Curia and a visit to Rome's Bambino Gesù Hospital, which specializes in the care of sick children.
Perhaps the most dramatic Christmas Day example of the “Francis effect” came not in the Vatican but across town, in a Roman detention center for poor and undocumented immigrants. A four-day hunger strike, which featured angry Muslims from Morocco and Tunisia sewing their mouths shut, was suspended because the protestors were persuaded that Francis could “make us heard.”
All Things Catholic: After you’ve been in the Vaticanology business for a while, it’s hard to be surprised by the occasionally tone-deaf questions people ask.