Francis pushed the closed-door summit of about 150 cardinals to "deepen the theology of the family and discern the pastoral practices which our present situation requires."
Pope Francis said the worst thing about growing old is not becoming weaker or infirm, but the "abandonment, the exclusion, the deprivation of love" in today's "throwaway culture."
The pope's remarks came in a written message sent to bioethicists, scientists, healthcare professionals, religious, theologians and other experts attending the Pontifical Academy for Life's workshop Thursday and Friday on "Aging and Disability."
Pope Francis on Thursday appointed three bishops: Msgr. Olivier Leborgne as bishop of Amiens, France; Msgr. Carl Kemme as bishop of Wichita, Kan.; and Msgr. Peter Baldacchino as auxiliary bishop of Miami.
The appointment of Kemme, who had been serving as the vicar general of the Springfield, Ill., archdiocese, was first announced Thursday by Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki.
Five minutes before the Vatican press office released the official notice of the new bishop's appointment, Paprocki tweeted:
Pope Francis began meeting this morning with cardinals from around the world, launching a series of discussions that could lead to changes in the church's pastoral practices on family life.
If you haven't been to confession recently, don't wait, Pope Francis told people at his weekly general audience. One may walk into the confessional with a heavy heart, but forgiveness brings freedom and lightness.
"If a lot of time has passed, don't lose even one more day. Go," the pope said Wednesday, promising that "the priest will be good. Jesus will be there and he's even nicer than the priest."
"Be courageous. Go to confession," the pope told an estimated 20,000 people at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.
Pope Francis confirmed the top leadership of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and named among its new members Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Byzantine Archbishop William Skurla of Pittsburgh.
The Vatican announced Wednesday that the pope confirmed Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri as prefect and Archbishop Cyril Vasil as secretary of the congregation, which assists the Eastern Catholic churches throughout the world and the Latin-rite Catholic dioceses of the Middle East.
After violent confrontations between protesters and police and the deaths of more than 20, church leaders called for an end to all violence.
The Council of Cardinals have made a set of recommendations to Pope Francis on restructuring the Vatican's financial operations and the bank.
NCR Today: Japan's bishops say the Vatican's Europe-centric view hampers efforts at evangelization in places where Catholics are a small minority.
Pope Francis is the sovereign of Vatican City and has a Holy See passport. But even dressed in papal white, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is an Argentine citizen with a brand new passport and national identity card.
"The pope wanted to continue having normal Argentine documents," said Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman. "This doesn't mean that he isn't also the head of state of Vatican City and the pontiff."