Mon 22nd Sep 2014 | Last updated: Sun 21st Sep 2014 at 20:14pm

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Don’t just observe life ‘from the balcony’, says Pope as year begins

Pope Francis announced the extraordinary synod in October last year  (CNS)

Francis gives thanks for the graces of 2013 on New Year’s Eve in St Peter’s Basilica

Vatican invites Tony Blair to peace talks on Syria

Tony Blair with Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York in 2007 (CNS)

Mr Blair is among key political experts invited by the Vatican for a meeting aimed at promoting peace in Syria

Vatican hires firm to streamline communications

Fr Federico Lombardi,  told journalists that McKinsey would consider how to coordinate or integrate the many different outlets  (PA)

The Vatican has hired two international consulting agencies

Pope Francis speaks out on human trafficking

Pope Francis (CNS)

Pontiff says it is a disgrace that people end up being ‘thrown away and abandoned’

Pope Francis backs campaign to end ‘scandal’ of world hunger

Two brothers eat a meal provided by a charity in a slum in Manila (CNS)

Caritas Internationalis campaign begins with worldwide ‘wave of prayer’

Bishop is asked to open Cause of Focolare founder Chiara Lubich

Benedict XVI said Lubich was a "woman of fearless faith."

Movement asks for Cause to be opened five years after Chiara Lubich’s death

Zimbabwe’s bishops say country more polarised than before elections

Zimbabwean women collect food aid from a distribution point in Mutawatawa (CNS)

Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference describe ‘water and power cuts and shortage of medicines’ in pastoral letter

Pope Francis to help launch worldwide ‘wave of prayer’ against hunger

Young children beg for food in the Philippines after last month's devastating super typhoon (CNS)

Pope will offer support for Caritas Internationalis’s ‘One Human Family, Food For All’ campaign

Christians must cooperate to help the persecuted Church, Pope tells Patriarch

Pope Francis, pictured on Saturday, expressed concerns for Christians persecuted in the Middle East

I am aware that you are deeply concerned for the situation of Christians in the Middle East, he tells Patriarch of Constantinople

Pope venerates relics of St Peter at Mass ending Year of Faith

Pope Francis venerates what are believed to be the relics of St Peter (Photo: CNS)

After the Mass Pope Francis handed out copies of his first apostolic exhortation