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.
One year ago, on March 13, 2013, Proto Deacon Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauren stepped out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to inform the world that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, had become the first Pope Francis. It was the beginning of a remarkable year of “firsts.”
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.
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.
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).
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.