Pope Benedict surprised the world on Monday by announcing he will resign at the end of the month. The pontiff said he was too infirm to carry on.
Pope Francis has appointed 20 new cardinals, 15 of whom will be eligible to elect the next pope. Once again his choices lent greater geographic representation to the Europe-centric College of Cardinals.
The head of the Catholic Church has issued very strong words against the Vatican's bureaucracy. At a Christmas meeting, he said members of the clergy were "amassing material goods, not out of need, but to feel safe."
Pope Paul VI has been beatified at a Mass in the Vatican. Although remembered widely for reaffirming the Catholic Church's ban on artificial contraception, he also left a legacy of reform.
The Vatican has confirmed reports that former Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests for child sex abuse in the last two years of his pontificate - a dramatic increase over previous years.
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