To celebrate his 77th birthday, Pope Francis celebrated Mass and had breakfast with three people who live on the streets near the Vatican.
John Allen in Rome: What do "Francis bishops" look like? Yesterday's appointments to the Congregation for Bishops are telling.
News about Pope Francis continues to flow at such a torrid pace that it's hard to digest one development before the next one hits. His Dec. 15 blockbuster interview with La Stampa is a case in point, with a shake-up at the Congregation for Bishops 24 hours later making it already seem ancient history.
One difference between Pope Francis and his predecessors: He doesn't give speeches. He talks.
At events in late November and early December, the pattern was the same: Meeting with a group, the pope sat among them, gave no prepared remarks, but conversed freely and at length.
Describing the experience of meeting Francis, Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga said that "to speak with the pope face to face is a spiritual experience."
When Pope Francis announced in April that he would convene a sort of "kitchen cabinet" of the world's cardinals, he gave the group two general objectives: to help him in reforming the Vatican's bureaucracy and to advise him in governing the global church.
While we are still waiting to see exactly where pursuit of the first goal will lead, December's meeting of the Council of Cardinals saw the group embracing the second.
John Allen in Rome: Pope Francis on Monday named new members of the Congregation for Bishops, and one American name was notably absent.
In a Dec. 14 interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pope Francis suggested that the common experience of anti-Christian persecution around the world could become the basis for efforts at Christian unity, calling it the "ecumenism of blood."
Here is the text of what Pope Francis said, in reply to a question from Italian writer Andrea Tornielli as to whether ecumenism is a priority for the pope, in NCR translation from the Italian.
"I don't know where any such an idea came from," the pope told the Italian daily La Stampa. "Women in the Church must be valued, not 'clericalised.' "
Europe's top financial transparency experts say "much work has been done in a short time" to promote reform, but the Vatican still risks being used for money laundering.
The Vatican recently called for a broad-based world-wide parish-level input in preparation for the bishops meeting next year on pastoral challenges to the family.