Pope: In new year, step outside your comfort zone, get involved

VATICAN CITY - The new year will be brighter only if everyone steps outside their safe havens, gets involved and works together to solve local problems with generosity and love, Pope Francis said.

Pope: Don't forget plight of exiles, elderly marginalized by own family

VATICAN CITY - Just as people must never ignore the plight of today's immigrants and refugees, they must also remember today's "hidden exiles" -- the elderly and other relatives who are abandoned or forgotten by their own families, Pope Francis said.

2013: a year of two Popes

The past year didn’t really begin March 13. There were signifi-cant events in the life of Canada, the world and the Church in January and February — before Cardinal Jorge Bergolio walked out onto that balcony above St. Peter’s Square and asked us for our prayers. It only seems that our world before Pope Francis is a land far, far away and long, long ago.

Retired Pope Benedict visits Pope Francis for lunch

VATICAN CITY - Three days after Pope Francis paid his predecessor a visit on Christmas Eve, retired Pope Benedict joined the pope for lunch at the Vatican guesthouse.

Pope, on feast of first martyr, prays for persecuted Christians

VATICAN CITY - Observing the feast of the church's first martyr, Pope Francis prayed for Christians suffering persecution and discrimination around the world, even in countries that nominally honor religious liberty.

Naples' Nativity scene nears completion in St. Peter's Square

VATICAN CITY - The world famous Nativity scenes of Naples never follow just the biblical account of Jesus' birth; for one thing, the figures usually are dressed in 18th-century costumes, but also it's not unusual for a modern-day politician or even pope to enter the scene.

Remember those like Holy Family who are homeless, pope says

VATICAN CITY - Seeing a protest sign in St. Peter's Square that read "The poor cannot wait," Pope Francis urged individuals and government leaders to recognize the pain, struggles and rights of families -- like Jesus, Mary and Joseph -- who do not have a home.

Pope pays pre-Christmas visit to Rome's children's hospital

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With lots of kisses, but very few words, Pope Francis spent more than two-and-a-half hours visiting sick children, their parents and doctors at Rome's Bambino Gesu children's hospital Dec. 21.

Pope proclaims sainthood of Jesuit companion of St. Ignatius

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis issued a decree declaring one of his favorite Jesuits, Blessed Peter Faber, a saint.

Pope denies he's a Marxist in latest interview

VATICAN CITY - In another wide-ranging interview with an Italian journalist, Pope Francis denied he was a Marxist but said he took no offense at the label, dismissed the notion of women cardinals and reflected on Christmas as an occasion of joy, tenderness and hope.

Pope celebrates birthday having breakfast, Mass with homeless men

VATICAN CITY - As part of a low-key celebration of his 77th birthday, Pope Francis had breakfast with three people who live on the streets near the Vatican. A small dog, belonging to one of the homeless men, was also on the guest list.