Pope Francis Releases Lenten Message on Poverty, Reforms Vatican Financial Systems, Appears with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at Cardinal Ceremony

pope-HEAD-small For both Eastern and Western Christians, this coming week marks the start of Lent, the season of fasting and penitence that leads to Easter. Pope Francis released a special message for Lent, urging Christians to use the period to confront poverty and take practical steps to alleviate it. It was another busy week for the pope. On Monday (February 24), Francis made sweeping changes to the Vatican’s scandal-plagued financial system. As part of the reforms, he created a new watchdog office, the Secretariat for the Economy, which will be headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell. Friday (February 28) marked the one- year anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI stepping down from the papal office. At the time, he said he would stay largely “hidden from the world.” Benedict lives at the Vatican, and last weekend (February 23) he made his first appearance at a public liturgy since his resignation. He said Francis had invited him to the ceremony where new cardinals received their red hats.