The Vatican has effectively addressed the "worldwide scourge" of clerical sexual abuse over the past decade, a United Nations panel heard Tuesday.
Christianity is not a school of ideas or a collection of beautiful temples and lovely art; it is a living people who follow Jesus and give witness to him every day, Pope Francis said.
"Am I a Christian giving witness to Jesus or am I a simple numerary of this sect," unable to let the Holy Spirit "drive me forward in my Christian vocation?" he asked in his homily at Mass Tuesday in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.
"A Christian who doesn't give witness is unfathomable," he said, according to a report by Vatican Radio.
A U.N. committee on torture repeatedly asked Vatican officials about efforts to investigate allegations of clerical sex abuse, to punish offenders and to cooperate with civil authorities.
The new sex abuse commission sets sights on "superiors of the church [who] have not fulfilled their obligations to protect children."
The number of Catholics in the world and the number of priests, permanent deacons and religious men all increased in 2012, while the number of women in religious orders continued to decline, according to Vatican statistics.
The number of candidates for the priesthood also showed its first global downturn in recent years.
The statistics come from a recently published Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which reported worldwide church figures as of Dec. 31, 2012.
As Vatican representatives prepare to testify before a United Nations inquiry into torture next week, a senior official warned investigators that it would be "deceptive" to link torture with the pedophilia scandals that have swept the Catholic church.
The Vatican's chief spokesman, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, said Friday that the Convention Against Torture, endorsed by the Vatican in 2002, was one of the most important in the U.N.'s ambit.
Q and A: Pope Francis has opened up new opportunities for the Catholic church and has allowed for a "fresh sharing" of the faith, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori said.
Pope Francis reiterated his strong opposition to abortion on April 25, saying it "compounds the grief of many women" already succumbing to what he called the "pressures of secular culture."
The pope's remarks, to a group of bishops from South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland, represented a departure of sorts for Francis, who has kept a relative silence on the issue as he tries to redirect the church's energies toward combating poverty and income inequality.
Making remarks to a new Vatican council to review the central church's economic and administrative structures Friday, Pope Francis stressed that the council's eight cardinals and seven lay members should work together as equals.
The seven lay members, Francis said, "represent various parts of the world and contribute with their experience to the good of the church and its particular mission."
"The laity are full members of the new council: not members of the second class, no!" Francis said. "All on the same level."
Ahead of Pope Francis' first meeting with his panel charged with tackling the clergy abuse scandal, victims are demanding the church take immediate action to expose perpetrators.