Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis has abolished the obligation of secrecy for those who report having been sexually abused by a priest and for those who testify in a church trial or process having to do with clerical sexual abuse.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis blessed hundreds of figurines of the baby Jesus -- ranging from tiny plastic figures to life-sized statues -- and encouraged children to make sure they have Nativity scenes at home.

VATICAN CITY -- On the eve of his 83rd birthday, Pope Francis met with a group of his peers -- although many were a few years younger -- and told them that "old age is a time of grace."

VATICAN CITY -- The saints are "the true light of the church," so before they are proposed to all Catholics for imitation and veneration, a scrupulous investigation is required, Pope Francis said.

VATICAN CITY -- Anyone who wants to experience the consolation and tenderness of God simply needs to go to confession, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass.

VATICAN CITY -- Mary, conceived without sin, is a "masterpiece" who reflects "the beauty of God who is all love, grace and self-giving," Pope Francis said on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis told Jesuits in Thailand he was "scandalized" by some of the anti-migrant rhetoric he hears in Europe, and he is convinced people are being manipulated into thinking the only way they can preserve their lifestyles is by building walls.

VATICAN CITY -- The sounds of ululations and drums and a litany of saints filled St. Peter's Basilica Dec. 1 as Pope Francis celebrated Mass according to what is commonly called the Zairean Rite.

VATICAN CITY -- As Advent approached, Pope Francis gave a small fragment of Jesus' crib back to Catholics in the Holy Land.

VATICAN CITY -- A Nativity scene is a simple reminder of something astonishing: God became human to reveal the greatness of his love "by smiling and opening his arms to all," Pope Francis said in a letter on the meaning and importance of setting up Christmas cribs.