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Rome Reports

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December 2013: Pope Francis named Person of the Year

December 2 December kicked off with a visit to the Vatican by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Good morning. It's a pleasure and an honor to see you. Behind closed doors, they talked about restarting peace talks between Israel and Palestine. But of course, the Pope's visit to the Holy Land in a couple months was also on the agenda. "My wife's father was a great biblical scholar.� Even Netanyahu's wife told the Pope she hoped to see him again in Israel very soon. But the most heartfelt meeting took place with these sick Polish children. The Pope was visibly moved. POPE FRANCIS "Thank you for praying for the Church. Through your suffering, your inexplicable suffering, you do much good for the Church. God understands everything and your prayers help. Thank you very much. It would be a pleasure to greet every one of you individually.� One of the girls gave the Pope a drawing of St. Francis of Assisi, while another, one of Our Lady of Lourdes. Near the end, Pope Francis posed for a pictures for a very promising photographer. December 5 December also brought along the first major decision taken by the eight-member Council of Cardinals that advises the Pope on reform to the Church and Roman Curia. CARD. SEAN PATRICK O'MALLEY Archbishop of Boston ( USA ) "The Holy Father has decided to establish a very specific Commission for the protection of children, so the Commission will be able to advise the Holy Father about the protection of children and in pastoral care for victims of abuse.� The commission will be responsible for finding ways to help victims and prevent other cases of abuse. It will also push for greater cooperation with public officials to root out abusers. The creation of the commission took place unusually quick. The Council of Cardinal proposed the idea on a Wednesday, then Pope Francis approved it on Thursday. Two hours later, the Vatican made the announcement. December 11 The cover of this magazine made headlines across the world. Time magazine named Pope Francis as their Person of the Year. The magazine called him the "people's Pope,� and a "new voice of conscience.� He's the third Pope named as Person of the Year. John XXIII and John Paul II also received the distinction during their papacies. The Pope said that he hoped this recognition would help bring the Gospel to even more people. December 17 On December 17, the Pope celebrated his first birthday at the Vatican. His guests were three homeless men staying near St. Peter's Square. And while he may have received a lot of birthday cakes, the only candles he blew were from a cake the children from a Vatican clinic gave him. They also gave the Pope a white dove, a symbol of the simplicity and kindness Pope Francis has used to win over hearts in the past nine months. The celebration took place the same weekend the Vatican's Christmas Tree, brought from Bavaria, lit up St. Peter's Square. The tree was a gift to an Argentine Pope, but from the homeland of Benedict XVI. JMB/RCA RR GdP - PR Up:JRB #Vatican