A team of religious, civic and business leaders will travel to Rome to plan for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year.
Pope Francis criticized those who practice fasting as a mere ritual, rather than as a sacrifice representative of a religion of love.
The pope made his remarks March 7, the first Friday of Lent, in his homily at morning Mass in the Vatican guesthouse, where he lives.
"These hypocritical people are good persons," he said, referring to the Pharisees who criticized Jesus and his followers for not fasting as required by Jewish law. "They do all they should do. They seem good. But they are ethicists without goodness because they have lost the sense of belonging to a people."
NCR editors call on Pope Francis to meet victims of sexual abuse by priests and act to bring them healing.
Pope Francis' comments about clerical sex abuse make it clear that he is using the same tired and irrelevant playbook bishops have worn out over the past few years.
Faith and Justice: Pope Francis is the most talked about person in the world. But what impact is he actually having on the life of the church?
NCR Today: Ash Wednesday on the streets; interview with Pope Francis on women, sex abuse; Ugandan bishops tight-lipped about anti-gay law
"What you see is what you get. And what you hear is what comes to his heart," retired Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said of Pope Francis.
Citing the words of Pope Francis, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver told the Diocese of Pueblo's newly ordained Bishop Stephen J. Berg that bishops and priests are shepherds who "should take on the smell of the sheep."
The archbishop also called on Berg during his episcopal ordination Feb. 27 as the fifth bishop of Pueblo to help the faithful accept the teachings of Jesus in a time when people readily turn away from God.
Making a Difference: Conversion is not a once and for all done deal. It is a lifelong journey.
NCR Today: Pope Francis inspires so many around the globe because he acts like a Christian should act. Not a bad starting point for some Catholic leaders to follow.