Pope Francis phoned relatives of the late James Foley on Aug. 21 to console them for their loss and assure them of his prayers.
Human trafficking destroys the lives of millions of children, women and men each year, making it a real threat to peace, the Vatican said as it announced Pope Francis' 2015 World Peace Day message would focus on the phenomenon.
"Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters" will be the theme for the Jan. 1, 2015, commemoration and for the message Pope Francis will write for the occasion, according to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Pope Francis asked people to join him in prayer Tuesday after he learned that two of his great-nephews and their mother had died in a car crash in Argentina. His nephew is in critical condition.
The dead were identified as the wife and two young sons of Pope Francis' nephew, Emanuel Horacio Bergoglio: Valeria Carmona, 39, Joseph Bergoglio, 2, and Antonio Bergoglio, 8 months.
According to Argentine news reports, the 35-year-old son of the pope's late brother Alberto Bergoglio underwent emergency surgery and was on a respirator.
Pope Francis said the use of force can be justified to stop "unjust aggressors" such as Islamic State militants in Iraq, but he declined to endorse U.S. airstrikes.
Pope Francis formally asked U.N. agencies and the entire international community "to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway" in northeastern Iraq.
In a letter signed Aug. 9 but released by the Vatican after it had been delivered, Pope Francis told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon immediate action was needed "to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities."
Even as Francis called for peace in the Middle East, the Vatican tried to come to terms with the idea that U.S. military strikes were necessary and working.
Pope Francis "strongly desired that [the villas] be opened as a sign of sharing something unique, a common good."
Pope Francis is dispatching Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his personal envoy to northern Iraq, where Islamist militias have sent thousands of Christians and other religious minorities fleeing for their lives, the Vatican said Friday.
The Vatican announced the appointment of Filoni, a former papal nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, only a day after the pope launched a fresh appeal for the welfare of Christians affected by the violence there.
NCR Today: After Pope Francis' election, the "Francis effect" swept the globe. Three Catholics, including an abuse survivor, explain how this pope has changed their lives.
The pope also made a "pressing appeal to the international community to take initiatives to put an end to the humanitarian drama underway."