In the past year, many have noticed a "Francis effect" taking place around the world as throngs of disaffected Catholics have given the church a second look. Yet we may rightly wonder whether this is actually a double effect -- for not only are lay Catholics returning to the pews, but some clergy are feeling empowered to reach toward the ambiguous margins of modern belief.
The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015 will serve as a forum for debating issues on the agenda for the world Synod of Bishops the following month.
Opinion: Young Catholics are increasingly turned off by the attitudes of some American bishops, including the opposition to civil gay marriage and refusal to consider female priests.
Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See said the pope could be a target for the Islamic State, but the Vatican says Francis faces no specific threat.
Francis Chronicles: "The love of Christ ... is able to sustain their love and to renew it when, humanly speaking, it becomes lost, wounded or worn out."
Pope's quotes: Some of our favorite quotes from Pope Francis
The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis is planning to visit Turkey "in the last days of November," but said the length of his trip and his agenda in the country have yet to be determined.
Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, made the announcement to reporters Friday, noting that a formal invitation from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had arrived at the Vatican earlier in the day.
Pope's quotes: Some of our favorite quotes from Pope Francis.
In light of "countless requests from every part of the world," Pope Francis has approved putting Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII on the church's universal calendar of feast days.
Called the General Roman Calendar, it is the universal schedule of holy days and feast days for the Latin rite of the Catholic church.
The two saints' feast days, both of which have the ranking of an optional -- not obligatory -- memorial, are Oct. 11 for St. John XXIII and Oct. 22 for St. John Paul II.
In a long and complex article in the Sept. 15 issue of America magazine, Cardinal Walter Kasper discusses how mercy is understood in the Gospel and in the teaching of Pope Francis. He applies this to the possibility of permitting those in second marriages to be absolved and returned to the church in good standing. This issue is now under discussion in preparation for the upcoming synod, Kasper says, and it is clear he will be one of those pushing enthusiastically for change in the near future.