Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis prayed that people all over the world would end 2019 "in peace, peace in their hearts," and that families would mark New Year's by "communicating with one another."

VATICAN CITY -- The light of peace, hope and salvation brought into the world with the birth of Jesus is stronger than the darkness of war and despair, but spreading that light requires the cooperation of every person of good will, Pope Francis said in his Christmas address.

VATICAN CITY -- Christmas night tells each person, no matter how poor or sinful, that they are utterly and totally loved by God, Pope Francis said as he celebrated Jesus' birth.

ROME -- Demonstrating a strong "chain of abuse," the Legionaries of Christ said its founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, sexually abused at least 60 minors and that at least another 51 youngsters were abused by Father Maciel's victims or victims of his victims.

VATICAN CITY -- The ongoing reform of the Roman Curia is a necessary part of the Catholic Church's fidelity to its mission to proclaim the Gospel, recognizing that very few countries today can be described as "Christian" and that new ways of evangelizing are necessary, Pope Francis said.

VATICAN CITY -- After accepting the resignation of 92-year-old Cardinal Angelo Sodano as dean of the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis changed the norms of the office so that the dean would be elected to a five-year term renewable only once.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis and the secretary-general of the United Nations said that, like millions of people around the world, during the Christmas season their thoughts turn to yearnings for peace and for the well-being of those in need.

VATICAN CITY -- Putting up a Nativity scene before Christmas is a reminder to stop and remember what Christmas is really about and to prepare one's heart like a manger for the coming of Christ, Pope Francis said.

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.