Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY -- Recognizing "the gifts of each baptized person" -- women and men -- Pope Francis ordered a change to canon law and liturgical norms so that women could be formally installed as lectors and acolytes.

VATICAN CITY -- On a Christmas like no other, Pope Francis prayed for people who could not be with their families because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he urged everyone to recognize and help those who are suffering even more.

VATICAN CITY -- Two top Vatican officials -- Cardinal Konrad Krajewski and Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello -- have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Italian media reported, and a Vatican source confirmed.

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican health service will begin vaccinating employees and Vatican citizens against COVID-19 using the Pfizer vaccine, the director of the Vatican health service told Vatican News.

ROME -- As rumblings and grumblings grew in the press and on social media, the permanent council of the Italian bishops' conference met to discuss the problem of Christmas "midnight Mass" when the government has imposed a 10 p.m. curfew as part of its measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

VATICAN CITY -- One by one 11 senior churchmen, including two U.S. citizens -- Cardinals Wilton D. Gregory of Washington and Silvano M. Tomasi, a former Vatican diplomat -- knelt before Pope Francis to receive their red hats, a cardinal's ring and a scroll formally declaring their new status and assigning them a "titular" church in Rome.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although dogged for years by rumors of sexual impropriety, Theodore E. McCarrick was able to rise up the Catholic hierarchical structure based on personal contacts, protestations of his innocence and a lack of church officials reporting and investigating accusations, according to the Vatican report on the matter.

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican Secretariat of State has sent an explanatory note to nuncios around the world insisting that when Pope Francis spoke about civil unions, he was not changing or challenging "the doctrine of the church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years."

VATICAN CITY -- The Eight Beatitudes describe the path to holiness, but the call to meekness seems particularly challenging today, Pope Francis said.

VATICAN CITY -- When Pope Francis said gay people have a right to be in a family and that gay couples needed some form of civil law to protect their rights, he was not saying that gay couples should have a right to adopt children.