Three months after he gave 19 new cardinals their red hats, Pope Francis gave new responsibilities to the 16 who are under the age of 80.
It sounds a little far-fetched and for some purists perhaps unthinkable: A pope, a rabbi and a sheik decide to travel to the Holy Land and follow in the steps of Jesus.
But that is just one of the groundbreaking aspects of Pope Francis’ three-day visit to the Middle East that starts on Saturday (May 24), a visit in which he hopes to shore up interfaith dialogue, strengthen diplomatic relations and find new ways to build peace.
The Italian cardinal who served as the Vatican's No. 2 official under Pope Benedict XVI has rejected allegations that he mishandled 15 million euros ($20 million) from Vatican bank accounts.
Polluting or destroying the environment is like telling God one does not like what he created and proclaimed to be good, Pope Francis said.
The Bible says that after every stage of creation, God was pleased with what he had made, the pope said Wednesday at his weekly general audience. "To destroy creation is to say to God, 'I don't like it.' "
On the other hand, he said, safeguarding creation is safeguarding a gift of God. "This must be our attitude toward creation: safeguarding it. If not, if we destroy creation, creation will destroy us. Don't forget that!"
A senior Vatican official tried to defuse the damaging rift between the Vatican and U.S. nuns after a recent rebuke over obedience and doctrinal differences.
Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, superior general of the Jesuits, announced his intention to resign in late 2016 after he turns 80.
Argentine Archbishop Jose Luis Mollaghan was nominated to be a member of the congregation "in the commission being established to examine the appeals of clergy for 'delicta graviora.' "
The number of suspicious transaction reports filed grew from six in 2012 to 202 in 2013. The majority of those involved transactions carried out through the Vatican bank.
In the church, as in any other situation, "problems cannot be resolved by pretending they don't exist," Pope Francis said.
"Confronting one another, discussing and praying -- that is how conflicts in the church are resolved," the pope said Sunday before praying the "Regina Coeli" with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Pope Francis will be accompanied on his first visit to the Middle East by Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Muslim leader Omar Abboud -- two friends from Buenos Aires.
It is the first time a pope has made an official visit accompanied by members of other faiths, and it underscores the interfaith focus of Francis' trip to the Holy Land, the Vatican said Thursday.