Gathering at "a time of severe tension and conflict," particularly in the Middle East, 24 Catholic and Muslim leaders and scholars urged dialogue to promote greater respect and understanding and condemned all acts of violence committed in the name of religion.
Pope Francis confirmed the head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and named among its new members Australian Cardinal George Pell, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, and Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis.
The Vatican announced Saturday that the pope confirmed Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz as prefect of the congregation, the Vatican office that oversees the world's religious orders.
The "Francis revolution" continued in January with personnel shuffles, policy signals and gestures reinforcing the pope's vision of a more merciful church.
Pope Francis replaced four cardinals serving on a five-person commission overseeing the Vatican bank.
Several key political experts are invited to the Vatican for a one-day meeting Jan. 13 aimed at promoting a cease-fire in Syria, ahead of peace talks slated for Jan. 22.