Pope Francis officially became the Catholic Church's pontiff Tuesday, in a ceremony that the Vatican said ahead of time would be short in keeping with the spirit of simplicity exuded by the new Holy Father. We live-blogged the event below. You can read the full story here
[Updated at 10:21 a.m. ET] That's all for the live blog of Pope Francis' inauguration as the Catholic Church's 266th pontiff. Tens of thousands of people listened from St. Peter's Square in Vatican City as Francis called for the protection of the weakest in society during his homily.
[Updated at 7:18 a.m. ET] U.S. Vice President Joe Biden greets Pope Francis.
The events that will lead to the election of a new pope are starting to take shape.
The Catholic Church's cardinals will start general congregations – meetings that precede a conclave to elect a new pope – on Monday at 9:30 a.m. at the Vatican (3:30 a.m. ET), with a second session set for later that day, according to a letter issued Friday by the dean of the College of Cardinals.
Setting a date for the conclave to elect the new pope will be among the items on the agenda. The previous pope, Benedict XVI, resigned Thursday.
[Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET] Uniformed police officers have now taken over the task of guarding the pope emeritus. When his papacy ended 10 minutes ago, Swiss Guards left their posts, closed the doors of Castel Gandolfo, and hung up their halberds.
[Updated at 2 p.m. ET] The papacy of Benedict XVI is now officially over, ending a pontificate in retirement rather than death for the first time in nearly 600 years.
Vatican magistrates may have authorized the tapping of two or three telephone lines during the investigation into leaks from the pope's private apartments, a Vatican spokesman said Thursday.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi was responding to a report in the Italian weekly magazine Panorama claiming that there had been a large-scale wiretapping and surveillance operation during the investigation. He denied there had been "a massive" operation on the scale reported by the magazine, saying there was "no foundation" for the article.
If there was any wiretapping or surveillance, "it's a very small process," Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica said. Both spokesmen denied that the operation had been ordered by the three cardinals commissioned to write a report into the scandal, saying that if it had happened, it was ordered by magistrates.
[Updated at 12:24 p.m. ET] President Obama issues the following statement on Pope Benedict's decision to step down: "On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.
"The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s successor."
[Updated at 8:57 a.m. ET] Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement about Pope Benedict's resignation:
"The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did. His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter.
Though 78 when he elected pope in 2005, he set out to meet his people – and they were of all faiths – all over the world. He visited the religiously threatened – Jews, Muslims and Christians in the war-torn Middle East, the desperately poor in Africa, and the world’s youth gathered to meet him in Australia, Germany, Spain and Brazil.
[Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET] Italy's flamboyant former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for tax fraud.
Berlusconi is likely to appeal the sentence handed down by a court in Milan, Italy. The case involved his Mediaset group and the purchase of TV rights. Berlusconi, 76, resigned as prime minister in November over his country's debt crisis, bringing to an apparent end an 18-year era in which he dominated Italian politics. For more details about the case, check out this story.
If Paolo Gabriele ever does get the pope's pardon, it won't be before he serves some jail time.
Gabriele, a former butler to Pope Benedict XVI, will start his 18-month sentence in a Vatican cell Thursday for taking secret papers from the pope's personal apartment and leaking them to an author who included them in a best-selling book, the Vatican said.
The Vatican announced a big change of plans Tuesday: It's not sending a delegation to Syria for now.
The trip's being postponed because of the "gravity of the situation" there, Secretary of State for the Vatican Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said.
Italian prosecutors Wednesday asked a court to sentence former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to five years in prison if he is found guilty of corruption charges.
Berlusconi is charged with bribing a British lawyer, David Mills, to secure favorable testimony in legal cases. Prosecutors requested prison time as they summed up their case against him Wednesday, and the three-judge court is expected to issue a verdict by late February.
The former premier's lawyers have argued that the statute of limitations in the case has expired, and Mills' conviction in the case was overturned in 2010. And even if convicted, the 75-year-old Berlusconi may never serve time due to appeals and his age - under Italian law, judges can suspend sentences for convicts over 70.
The 75-year-old Berlusconi dominated Italian politics for a decade and a half before resigning amid a financial crisis in November. He has survived a series of political, corruption and sex scandals over the years, involving allegations of embezzlement, tax fraud and bribery.
In addition to the Mills case, he also faces trial on charges that he hired an underage prostitute and later tried to pull strings to get her out of jail when she was arrested for theft.
Technical experts directing the salvage operation aboard the Costa Concordia cruise ship are recommending that the underwater part of the operation be called off because it is becoming too dangerous, Italy's civil protection agency said Tuesday.
The head of the operation, Franco Gabrielli, will make the final decision, but is unlikely to go against the recommendations of the technical experts, his office said.
The advice is based on safety concerns and follows consultations with relatives of the people still missing from the shipwreck and diplomats representing their countries, the civil protection agency said.
A total of 15 people remain missing after the cruise ship's collision with rocks off the coast of Tuscany on January 13. Seventeen bodies have been recovered. There were about 4,200 people on the cruise liner when it crashed.FULL STORY
Mario Monti has officially been appointed prime minister of Italy, Donato Marra of the presidential palace announced Wednesday.
Monti, who will also be finance minister, replaces the flamboyant Silvio Berlusconi, who was forced to resign as the country fights to bring its huge debts under control.
The 68-year-old former European Union commissioner won the backing of Berlusconi's political party and Italy's largest left-wing party on Tuesday.
"I am convinced of the capacity of our country to overcome this difficult time," Monti said.
An Italian inmate on Saturday testified that a fellow prisoner confessed that Amanda Knox, the American student convicted of murder in Italy, was not actually involved in the killing.
Knox was sentenced last year to 26 years in prison for the death of Meredith Kercher at a villa the two shared in Perugia, the central Italian town where both were students.
Knox has vehemently proclaimed her innocence and her family has continued to fight the conviction.
There was nearly two hours of legal wrangling between attorneys before the judge decided to allow inmate Mario Alessi to testify. Alessi is serving a 30-year sentence for kidnapping and killing a 18-month old boy.
Alessi testified that Rudy Guede, who has also been convicted of being involved in Kercher's murder and is serving a 16-year sentence, told him that Knox was not involved in the killing.FULL STORY
Thousands of Italians took to the streets in some 200 cities across the country Sunday in protest of Prime Minister's Silvio Berlusconi's alleged behavior toward women.
The largest gathering was in Rome, where organizers said 100,000 people gathered, under the slogan, "If not now, when?" In Milan, organizers estimated that 60,000 people gathered. Protests also took place outside Italy, including marches in Tokyo and Geneva.
Sunday's demonstrations were the biggest anti-Berlusconi rallies since the most recent sex scandal broke in January, when Milan prosecutors said they were investigating whether the prime minister abused his power by helping an underaged female, who he had allegedly paid for sex, get out of jail on a theft charge.
Berlusconi has denied that he had sex with the underaged female. A string of sex scandals have dogged him.FULL STORY
Italy's Constitutional Court Thursday struck down key parts of a law that would protect Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from prosecution.
The law was designed to halt criminal proceedings against top government officials for 18 months on the grounds that they are too busy to appear in court.
But Italy's top court ruled that 18 months is too long, and that judges, not politicians, should be the ones to determine if a defendant is free to appear in court.
In his annual "State of the World" address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, Pope Benedict XVI spoke Monday about religious intolerance and discrimination toward Christian minorities around the world.
The pope voiced concern about the recent attacks against Christians in the Middle East and urged the region's leaders to take stronger safeguard measures.
"Looking to the east, the attacks which brought death, grief and dismay among the Christians of Iraq, even to the point of inducing them to leave the land where their families have lived for centuries, has troubled us deeply. To the authorities of that country and to the Muslim religious leaders, I renew my heartfelt appeal that their Christian fellow-citizens be able to live in security, continuing to contribute to the society in which they are fully members."
The pope repeated his call for religious tolerance in Egypt. He said an attack on Christians as they prayed in church was another example of the need for governments to protect their religious minorities.
The pope also condemned the recent assassination of the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province and asked Pakistan to repeal its blasphemy laws, saying that they are often used as an excuse for religious attacks on Christians. The kistani governor, Salman Taseer, had spoken in opposition to the blasphemy laws.FULL STORY
[Update 11:30 a.m.] The device found on a train in Rome could not have exploded, officials say.
[Original post] A bomb was found under a train seat Tuesday in Rome, a City Hall spokesman said. It is not clear whether the device could have exploded or who left it, Marco Dell'Asta said.
Train officials found the package containing the device about 10 a.m. at the Rebibbia stop on the outskirts of the city, he said. A police bomb squad and the fire brigade are on the scene, Dell'Asta added.Read CNN's coverate of the bomb scare
[Updated at 9:06 a.m. ET] Angry protesters threw rocks and bottles and police lobbed tear gas canisters Tuesday in Rome's streets in the wake of lawmakers' confidence votes, narrowly in favor of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
[Posted at 8:27 a.m. ET] Embattled Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi retained his position by a narrow margin Tuesday after the nation's upper and lower houses of parliament voted in favor of him in a confidence vote.
The vote in the upper house, or Senate, was 162-135 with 11 abstentions. The lower house, or Chamber of Deputies, turned in a much narrower margin - 314-311, with two abstentions. The vote was the latest in a series on his leadership.FULL STORY
American student Amanda Knox, convicted last year of murdering her British roommate in Italy, was ordered Monday to face a new trial on slander charges, her lawyer Luciano Ghirga said.
The trial is set to begin May 17, 2011, he said.
She and her parents are accused of defaming Italian police in the wake of her arrest for the killing of Meredith Kercher. Monday's hearing determined that there is enough evidence to try her for libel.
Italian authorities are investigating the Vatican Bank over possible violations of money laundering regulations, the Bank of Italy told CNN Tuesday.
Another Italian bank alerted Bank of Italy investigators to two Vatican Bank transactions that did not appear to comply with anti-money laundering requirements, the Bank of Italy said.
When Bank of Italy investigators told legal authorities about the transactions, they were told that judicial authorities were already investigating the Vatican Bank, the Bank of Italy said.
The Vatican said Tuesday it is "perplexed and baffled" by the public prosecutor's actions, and that the Holy See aims for "complete transparency" in its financial operations.