By Jamie Crawford, CNN
As Pope Francis assumes his role as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, he is also the newest head of a sovereign state that accepts and accredits foreign envoys while sending its own diplomats around the globe to advance its interests.
There currently are 179 diplomatic missions with ties to the Vatican.
To the casual observer, the post may seem like a dream assignment, full of pomp and circumstance in one of the world's most historic and beautiful cities. But there is more to the job than what meets the eye.
"It's really in a unique position to engage with the world's largest faith-based organization," Miguel Diaz, the most recent U.S. envoy to the Holy See, told CNN. President Barack Obama has yet to nominate a successor to Diaz, who stepped down in November.
(CNN) - From the Vatican to Buenos Aires, Catholics worldwide rejoiced when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became the new pope.
He's the first Jesuit and the first Latin American in modern times to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
But in some ways, he's just a normal guy.
Here are five things to know about Pope Francis.
Vatican City (CNN) - Pope Francis on Thursday emphasized church advancement in his first Mass with the cardinals who elected him as pontiff a day earlier.
With solemnity, he delivered a homily about moving the Catholic Church forward to the cardinal electors, who were dressed in light yellow robes. Altar servers burned incense in the Sistine Chapel, the setting for the Mass.
He didn't appear to use a script and kept the sermon short, calling on the cardinals to have courage.
"When we don't walk, we are stuck. When we don't build on the rock, what happens? It's what happens to children when they build a sand castle and it all then falls down," the new pontiff said.
(CNN)–Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, shares details on the papal conclave with CNN's Chris Cuomo.
Editor's Note: Father James Martin is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America magazine and author of the The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything
By Father James Martin, special to CNN
(CNN) - Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope in history. When I heard his name announced, after shouting aloud, my first thought was how improbable it all was. But why? Why was a Jesuit pope so hard for people (including me) to imagine? And what would St. Ignatius Loyola, the 16th-century founder of the Jesuit Order (more formally known as the Society of Jesus), have thought?
Let’s take that first question first. Why was it so improbable? For two reasons.
First, most cardinals come from the ranks of the diocesan clergy. That is, most study in diocesan seminaries and are trained to work in the more familiar Catholic settings of parishes - celebrating Masses, baptizing children, presiding at marriages and working closely with families in their parish. Their lives are perhaps more easily understood by the public at large. They begin as parish priests, and later are appointed bishops and archbishops and, later, are named cardinals by the pope.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.