When Pope Francis visits South Korea Aug. 14-18, he will find a Catholic church that exemplifies much of what he hopes for the church around the world, including a highly active laity, extensive efforts to help the needy and strong relations with non-Christian communities. So says a retired American missionary who spent nearly half a century building up Catholicism in the country.
"Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away," Pope Francis said, assuring Christians in all of Iraq and the Middle East of his "constant prayers."
As Israel continued its ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, Pope Francis urged Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to end the spiraling conflict.
The pontiff telephoned the two leaders Friday to express "his very serious concerns" only six weeks after both joined him at the Vatican for a historic prayer meeting.
Francis said he was concerned about the "climate of growing hostility, hatred and suffering" that was claiming many victims, resulting in "a serious humanitarian emergency," the Vatican said in a statement.
Civilians in Gaza used a brief cease-fire to spill onto the streets and replenish scarce supplies, some church representatives said.
The temporary end of hostilities Thursday was to facilitate moving desperately needed aid into the area as well as give those who could leave a chance to escape, said the Vatican's Fides missionary news agency.
Three foreign Sisters of the Institute of the Incarnate Word were to leave Gaza after Israeli missiles destroyed a home very close to Holy Family Church, the territory's only Catholic parish, the agency said Thursday.
The Church of England's vote to allow female bishops threatens unity with the Catholic church, according to the editor of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.
Giovanni Maria Vian, who is also a Rome historian, on Tuesday said the decision would have "an extremely negative impact" on steps to bring the churches closer together despite a positive meeting between Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis a month ago.
Pope Francis on Tuesday called for an end to racism against migrants and pushed the U.S. to offer greater protection for young children entering the country illegally.
Pope Francis urged a group of economists and financiers to help reverse the current "throwaway" culture and put people at the center -- not the fringes -- of monetary strategies and policies.
Children, the elderly and young adults are all being rejected "because they're not useful," he said. "Who's going to be disposed of next? Let's stop ourselves in time, please," he said Saturday.
One week after publishing highlights of its 2013 financial statement, the Institute for the Works of Religion -- commonly called the Vatican bank -- released a 107-page, detailed financial report for the year.
The first statement, released July 8, said the institute's net profit for 2013 was only 2.9 million euros ($3.9 million) compared to 2012 net profits of 86.6 million euros ($117.7 million).
Before the vote, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury told the synod that "to pass this legislation is to commit ourselves to an adventure in faith and hope."
The Vatican said the latest interview with Pope Francis, in which he said 2 percent of priests are guilty of abuse, isn't a record of his exact words.