A Vatican official on Monday voiced support for giving unmarried couples some kind of legal protection even as he reaffirmed the Catholic church's opposition to same-sex marriage.
Pope Benedict XVI asked nuns, brothers and priests not to listen to the "prophets of doom" who say consecrated life has no future or that it has no meaning in today's world.
"Do not join the prophets of doom who proclaim the end or the lack of meaning of consecrated life in today's church; rather clothe yourselves with Jesus Christ and put on the armor of light ... remaining awake and vigilant," Pope Benedict told consecrated virgins and men and women who belong to religious orders.
Two months after receiving their red hats, the six newest members of the College of Cardinals have received their assignments as members of Vatican congregations, councils and offices -- one of the clearest ways they help Pope Benedict XVI govern the universal church.
While keeping their main jobs, the new assignments allow the cardinals to bring their experience and perspective to bear on the discussions and decisions of the central church offices that assist the pope.
Speaking to the members of the tribunal of the Roman Rota, Benedict said "lack of faith" on the part of the spouses can affect the validity of a marriage.
An estimated 250 protesters demonstrated Sunday evening in Dublin at a vigil outside the papal nunciature in support of the restoration to ministry of Irish Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery.
Diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Vietnam were strengthened in January, officials said, when Pope Benedict XVI met Nguyen Phu Trong, marking the first time a pope had met with the general secretary of the nation's Communist Party.
Trong, who has been general secretary of the party since 2011, was accompanied by an 11-person delegation of other high-level party and government officials. The Vatican was one of a number of stops the delegation had planned in Europe.
While every ecumenical council led to debate, it always has taken more than 50 years for teachings to take root, he said.
The Vatican on Thursday defended the pope's choice to open a Twitter account, even if it exposes him to insults and online abuse.
"Twitter is a secular reality ... but we prefer to be present rather than stay away from something just to avoid a risk," said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Vatican's department for social communications, during the launch of the annual papal message for World Communications Day.
Pope Benedict XVI opened his Twitter handle @Pontifex on Dec. 3. It has since gathered more than 2.5 million followers in nine languages, including Latin.
The Society of St. Pius X will have a future only if it stops publicly criticizing the teaching of the pope, said the Vatican official responsible for relations with traditionalist Catholics.
Pope Benedict XVI gave new assignments in mid-January to two U.S. archbishops serving as Vatican ambassadors.
Archbishop Joseph Marino, a native of Birmingham, Ala., who will be 60 on Jan. 23, was named the Vatican's first nuncio to Malaysia, as well as nuncio to East Timor and apostolic delegate in Brunei.
Archbishop Charles Balvo, a 61-year-old native of Brooklyn, was named nuncio to Kenya, as well as observer at the U.N. Environment Program and its Agency for Human Settlements, both based in Nairobi.