Peace in the Middle East, particularly the war in Syria, topped the agenda Monday as Pope Francis welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Pope Francis closed the Year of Faith by calling on people to keep Christ at the center of their lives, especially in times of trouble.
With his apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis finally makes his real debut as papal author.
Francis Chronicles: Vinicio Riva is used to being shunned. But Pope Francis did the opposite when he saw the man afflicted with neurofibromatosis.
Just as fine wine grows stronger with age, grandparents and other elderly Catholics "have the strength to leave us a noble inheritance," Pope Francis said at his early morning Mass.
Celebrating the liturgy Tuesday in the chapel of his residence, Pope Francis once again denounced a cultural tendency "to discard" the elderly "because they are a bother."
Instead, "the elderly are those who transmit history to us, who transmit doctrine, who transmit the faith and give it to us as an inheritance," the pope said, according to Vatican Radio.
With baptism, Christians are cleansed of sin, but the sacrament doesn't wash away human weakness nor the obligation to ask forgiveness when they make mistakes, Pope Francis said.
God's hands are never used for violence, Pope Francis said.
"I can't imagine God slapping us," the pope said. "Scolding us, yes, that I see, because he does do that, but he never, ever hurts us."
God shows love and tenderness, "even when he must scold us; he does it with a caress because he is (our) father," the pope said in his homily Nov. 12 during his morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Italian Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci, who had devoted most of his priestly life to music and served as director of the Sistine Chapel Choir for more than 40 years, died Monday at the age of 96.
In a telegram of condolence to Bartolucci's family and friends, Pope Francis described him as a "dear and esteemed priest, illustrious composer and musician, who exercised his long ministry particularly through sacred music, which is born of faith and expresses faith."
The pope said Bartolucci valued and promoted polyphony, "aimed at elevating the heart in praise of God."
Despite the perks and high living they may bring, bribery, corruption and dishonest work are serious sins that rob people and their children of their dignity, Pope Francis said.
"Devotees of the goddess of kickbacks" bring home "dirty bread" for their children to eat, the pope said Nov. 8 during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.
Mentoring inner-city youths is hardly the most obvious way to prepare for working at the Vatican, but Fr. Geno Sylva says the lessons he learned in a low-income New Jersey community have served him abundantly well in his current job as an official at the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.
Ordained in 1993, the New Jersey native has long had a passion for spreading the Gospel. He worked as a teacher, chaplain and president at DePaul Catholic High School in the diocese of Paterson, as well as a mentor at Young Prophets, a program for inner-city teenagers there.