"These are matters that affect all families ... We want to focus next year not just on the neuralgic sexual issues that seem to dominate the American media."
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."
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."
Migrants are among the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world, and a church committed to defending strong families must be particularly engaged in assisting migrant couples and their children, a U.S. bishop told a Vatican conference.
"Across the globe, 175 million migrants seek safety and sustenance in an unknown land," Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City told the Vatican-sponsored World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants.
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.
Pope Francis has warned doctors and ethicists on several hot-button social issues, attacking abortion, embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia.
Christians who believe they have their eyes fixed firmly on the Lord can, without meaning to, create an "ecclesiastical micro-climate" where the poor and others in need cannot enter.
Pope Francis confirmed his 2015 visit to the U.S. and warned against the "trap" of identifying families with "ideological concepts."
Pope Francis condemned the "absurd violence" being used against Christians in several countries and called on people of good will everywhere to take up the cause of religious freedom.
At the end of his general audience Wednesday, Pope Francis asked the estimated 15,000 people in St. Peter's Square to join him in reciting the Lord's Prayer for Christians facing persecution.