Pope Francis renewed his call for an end to war and terror as he finished his three-day journey to the Middle East with a marathon of meetings.
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.
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.
Despite fevered speculation, the Vatican says Pope Francis has not advanced slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero toward sainthood -- at least, not yet.
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.
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.
In its previous meetings, the Council of Cardinals has reviewed the work of Vatican congregations. The council will now shift its attention to studying the Vatican's 12 pontifical councils.
Retired Pope Benedict XVI is expected to attend the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II on Sunday, said Msgr. Liberio Andreatta, head of the Vatican-related pilgrim agency, Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi.
"Never before have there been two popes canonized and two popes living," he said at a news conference Wednesday in Rome to discuss final plans and preparations for pilgrims. "You can imagine their emotions."
The Vatican's scheduled May appearance before a United Nations committee monitoring adherence to an anti-torture treaty is being done willingly, the Vatican said.
Pope Francis called together the heads of all Vatican offices to discuss how they could integrate into their work the teaching of his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium ("The Joy of the Gospel").
The Vatican said the meeting, held Tuesday inside the Apostolic Palace, lasted two and a half hours.