Within weeks, the Vatican said in a statement Thursday, bishops' conferences around the world will be receiving preparatory documents for the 2015 synod.
In what the Vatican bank described as recognition that it has established serious measures to prevent money laundering, it announced the Italian government has promised to return 23 million euros (U.S. $29 million) that had been blocked for more than three years.
Even though the Italian government in 2011 said it was releasing the funds, the Italians believed "issues regarding customer due diligence remained unsolved" and so held on to the funds, said a statement Tuesday from the Institute for the Works of Religion, the formal name of what is commonly called the Vatican bank.
All Christians are called to holiness and to take even little steps each day to be more loving and more Christ-like, Pope Francis said.
"Some think that holiness is closing your eyes and making the face of a plastic statue, but that's not holiness," the pope said Wednesday at his weekly general audience.
Holiness is something much greater, much more profound than looking like an image on a holy card, he said. "It is living with love and offering your own Christian witness in your daily tasks."
"It's not new for us. ... It's not a revolution. It's an affirmation of various intuitions of the church in Asia and of the universal church."
Prominent U.S. evangelicals Russell Moore and Rick Warren blasted the sexual revolution at a Vatican conference Tuesday, saying it is destroying the institution of marriage.
Moore, the public face of the Southern Baptist Convention, said sexual liberation had created "a culture obsessed with sex" that had simply led to a "boredom of sex shorn of mystery."
The Vatican lifted its ban on the ordination of married men to the priesthood in Eastern Catholic churches outside their traditional territories, including the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, a key adviser to Pope Francis, was featured in a lengthy interview on the U.S. television program "60 Minutes" Sunday night.
The interview covered a wide range of topics: from O'Malley's relationship with the pope, to his feelings about the Vatican's investigations of U.S. women religious, to his thoughts on the possibility of women's ordination to the priesthood.
One revelation? O'Malley and the pope regularly communicate via fax.
Pope Francis' frequent criticism of the global market capitalist system is forcing governments around the world to "sit up and take notice," the British ambassador to the Holy See has said.
Speaking to a Rome conference on the relationship of faith and culture, Ambassador Nigel Baker said governments have to notice Francis' critiques because of the pope's "huge global impact."
Pope Francis confirmed his 2015 visit to the U.S. and warned against the "trap" of identifying families with "ideological concepts."
The service will require volunteers and donations of soap, towels and clean underwear. "We have to be evangelical, but intelligent, too."