For the remaining part of the year, the Pope continued using the platform, even during some visits outside Rome. Since March, he has also started using a cane during public viewings.
On January 9, the Pope baptized 16 children at the Sistine Chapel. He used a new baptismal font that replaced the one in use since 1996.
The Pope spoke to the parents about their responsibility to talk about faith with their children. He added that the best way to do so was leading by example, teaching them to pray and to live out the sacraments.
"Teaching others is challenging, and at times difficult in our always limited human capacity. But teaching others turns into a wonderful mission if done with God, the first and true teacher for all mankind.”
During one of the general audiences the Pope greeted a very unique visitor: this three-year-old, eight-inch-long Cuban reptile. But it's not done growing and could soon measure three and a half meters.
Police seized the reptile inside a private home and turned it over to the Rome Zoo, where it would be sent back to Cuba.
It was not the only animal to visit the Vatican in January. Lambs, cats, cows, chickens, dogs and horses from all over Italy gathered in St. Peter's Square for a blessing during the day of St. Anthony the Great, the patron saint of animals.
During their visit to the Vatican, Cardinal Comastri blessed the animals one by one. It is said to protect them and their owners, and to honor all the animals of the world.
Near the end of the month, the Pope approved short rites of Christian initiation for adults used by the Neocatechumenal Way.
"This approval is another element that shows how the Church accompanies you with patient care in a discernment which guards your wealth but also guards the communion and the internal harmony of the whole Church.”
Those in attendance included Carmen Hernandez, Mario Pezzi and Kiko Arguello, the leaders of the Neocatechumenal Way movement.
Founder, Neocatechumenal Way
"We are preparing to evangelize Asia, China. We already have seminaries in China. We are preparing families to go to Thailand, Vietnam. It was John Paul II who said that in the third millennium we have to evangelize Asia, and the Lord is taking us in that direction.”
The origin of the Neocatechumenal Way dates back to 1964, when it grew out of the slums in Madrid. Today, it spans over 100 countries and about 6,000 churches across every continent.
The Orchestra and Choir of the Neocatechumenal Way also participated in the meeting with the Pope, and dedicated two musical pieces, 'La Espada' and 'Resurrexit'.