A mortar round hit the apostolic nunciature in the Syrian capital, causing limited damage to the building and no causalities because of the early hour of the strike.
"The Holy Father should not have received that individual," said Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, who served as personal secretary to the pope for 39 years.
Suggest Feb. 8 -- the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave who found freedom in Italy and became a nun in the 19th century -- as the best day.
Moving four candidates closer to beatification, Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of a bishop in communist-controlled Romania and the heroic virtues of three religious women.
Surprising pilgrims at Blessed John Paul II's tomb, Pope Francis made an early morning visit to St. Peter's Basilica and celebrated Mass with the mostly Polish pilgrims.
More than 100 priests and pilgrims were gathered Thursday at the basilica's Chapel of St. Sebastian for a morning Mass near Blessed John Paul's tomb. Pope Francis arrived unannounced to preside at the liturgy and prayed for the late pope's intercession to help today's Christians be strong, not weak in their faith.
The Vatican has no evidence its calls were monitored by the U.S. National Security Agency and, even if they were, "we have no concerns about it," the Vatican spokesman said.
Asked about the possibility that the NSA's electronic eavesdropping program had monitored Vatican calls, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi told reporters Wednesday, "We have no evidence of this."
Pope Francis met Monday with Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi for what the Vatican called a "rather significant encounter" between the two.
The church must defend the traditional family without perpetuating the subjugation of women or forcing them to bear the burden for the family, speakers at a Vatican conference said.
The Vatican's highest doctrinal official on Tuesday reaffirmed church teaching barring divorced and remarried Catholics from the sacrament without an annulment of their first sacramental marriage.
The prefect of the papal household and personal secretary to retired Pope Benedict XVI said calling Pope Francis' acts a "revolution" is "frivolous."