The Catholic Jesuit order, of which Pope Francis is a member, has been rocked by claims a prominent priest abused several women, a case raising questions about how the Church sanctions offenders.
Father Marko Rupnik, a 68-year-old Slovenian priest and world-renowned artist, is accused of abusing a number of women at a religious community in Ljubljana in the early 1990s, in what press reports said involved sexual and psychological violence.
A church in the Finnish region of South Karelia caught fire in the middle of a Christmas service on Sunday, with local police believing the incident was a deliberate act of arson.
The wooden church, located in the municipality of Rautjärvi, caught fire on Christmas morning and was evacuated during the morning Christmas service after smoke alarms detected and alerted worshippers at around 9:30 am. While all of those present at the church were able to safely evacuate the building, the church itself was engulfed in flames and was completely destroyed.
Pope Francis on Sunday appealed for an end to the "senseless" war in Ukraine, in his traditional Christmas Day message broadcast around the world.
The head of the Catholic Church addressed thousands of people gathered in St Peter's Square, some of them holding Ukrainian flags, before delivering the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing ("to the city and the world").
A call to peace is traditionally the focus of the pope's message at Christmas, the holiday marking the birth of Christ, which he delivers from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica and is broadcast live worldwide.
Two churches in the cities of Bordeaux and Paris were attacked this week, with the latter seeing the vandals write far-left anarchist slogans on the doors.
On Tuesday, the Church of the Trinity in Bordeaux was found with at least 17 “impacts” found in the windows of the church, with six steel balls found near the windows which managed to impact but not break the glass.