On Sept. 22-25, 2015, the city of Philadelphia will host the 8th World Meeting of Families. It will be the first time the event has ever been held in the United States, and millions of visitors from more than 150 nations are expected to attend.
On September 8, 2015, Pope Francis issued two new motu proprii amending canon law as it pertains to the procedure for a declaration of marriage nullity, often called the annulment process. The first, entitled Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (The Lord Jesus, The Gentle Judge), was directed at the Latin Code of Canon Law. The second, entitled Mitis et misericors Iesus (The Gentle and Merciful Jesus), amended the text governing those Eastern Churches in full communion with the Roman Church. Both documents were signed by the pope on August 15.
On June 18, 2015, Pope Francis’ long-awaited encyclical on ecology was released to the world. The encyclical, as has historically been the case, takes its name from the first few words of the encyclical: Laudato Si’ – literally “Praise be to you.” These words, in turn, come from the opening line of the Canticle of the Creatures by St. Francis of Assisi, who continues to greatly influence the pope.
On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court held, in a 5-4 decision, that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution requires all 50 states to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed in a different state.
On December 22, 2008, the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) announced the Apostolic Visitation of institutes of women religious in the United States. While individual reports will most likely be sent to the institutes which hosted onsite visits and to the institutes where specific areas of concern were identified, the visitation was officially completed with the congregation’s issuance of its final report on December 16, 2014.
On December 22, 2008, the Vatican’s Congregation for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) announced the Apostolic Visitation of institutes of women religious in the United States. While individual reports will most likely be sent to the institutes who hosted onsite visits and to the institutes where specific areas of concern were identified, the visitation was officially completed with the Congregation’s issuance of its final report on December 16, 2014.
On December 17, 2014, President Obama announced plans to restore diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba after more than 50 years. Obama indicated the shift was prompted by the ineffectiveness of a “rigid” policy of isolation of Cuba. Going forward, Obama stated that the United States would move toward normalizing ties and would open an embassy in Cuba.
The Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held in the Vatican from Oct. 5-19, 2014. The theme for the assembly was “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.”
The Extraordinary General Assembly was tasked with defining the “state of the question” and with collecting the bishops’ experiences and proposals “in proclaiming and living the Gospel of the Family in a credible manner.” The Ordinary General Assembly, scheduled for Oct. 2015, will next “seek working guidelines” in the pastoral care of the person and the family.
Recent months have seen the outbreak of Ebola in several West African countries. Particularly hard hit have been Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. A Sept. 23, 2014, Fox News report cited the World Health Organization (WHO), which stated that the death rate among the infected in each of these countries is around 70 percent. The WHO reported on Oct. 17, 2014, that Liberia had the most reported cases at just more than 4,600.