Special Report

The Meaning of Marriage

A great debate is currently raging in the United States over the meaning of marriage. Contraception, divorce and cohabitation all have presented formidable challenges to the institution of marriage, which was already under heavy attack by economic and social forces. Now, the relatively new issue of same-sex unions has emerged. In the face of all this, what does the Church have to teach us about the true nature of marriage?

Both a natural institution…

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1601) states this about the marriage covenant:

Canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII


On July 5, 2013, the day that his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), was released, Pope Francis approved the canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. After signing decrees from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, he immediately called for a consistory of cardinals to set the date and make plans for the ceremonies. Pope Francis announced the final decision on Sept. 30, 2013, explaining that both late popes would be declared saints at a single ceremony on April 27, 2014.

Pope Francis’ exhortation Evangelii Gaudium

On the Solemnity of Christ the King (November 24, 2013), Pope Francis brought the “Year of Faith to its conclusion with the issuance of his first apostolic exhortation entitled, Evangelii Gaudium (the “Joy of the Gospel”). The Year of Faith had been declared by Pope Benedict XVI in an apostolic letter, Porta Fidei (the “Door of Faith”) on October 11, 2011. It began a year later on October 11, 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Typhoon Haiyan

On November 8, 2013, the massive typhoon Haiyan slammed the Philippines packing sustained winds of 195 miles per hour and gusts of up to 235 miles per hour. The damage done to the nation’s central islands by one of the most powerful storms ever recorded has been nothing short of catastrophic.

50th Anniversary of Vatican II

The first major document of Vatican II: Sacrosanctum Concilium

On Dec. 4, 1963, Pope Paul VI promulgated The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium). Liturgy had been the first topic debated and Sacrosanctum Concilium became the first document ratified by the Second Vatican Council.

Poverty in America

In September 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report, “Income, Poverty and Health Coverage in the United States 2011.” To say the figures were troubling is an understatement. In 2011, the report indicated that a staggering 46.2 million people (15 percent of the U.S. population) lived in poverty (and every indication is that these numbers have continued to grow). The percentages were even higher for the following groups: children (21.9 percent), African Americans (27.6 percent), Hispanics (25.3 percent), the disabled (28.8 percent) and women (16.3 percent).

War in Syria

On March 15, 2011, the so-called Arab Spring arrived in the Middle Eastern nation of Syria taking the form of demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad. The growth of the demonstrations soon provoked Assad, whose family has been in power since 1971, into deploying the army against the uprising. The resulting civil war soon grew to its current state which finds approximately nine separate factions all pitted against the government.

U.S. bishop's statement on Supreme Court decisions on marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court decisions June 26 striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and refusing to rule on the merits of a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 mark a “tragic day for marriage and our nation,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. The statement follows:


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