The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a formal statement, entitled “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography,” on Nov. 17, 2015, at its annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore. The statement, which was developed under the direction of Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, was approved by the full body of bishops 230 to 4, with one abstention.
On Saturday, Oct. 24, more than 900 women gathered at the Causeway Bay Hotel in Lansing for inspiration, challenge and guidance at the 2015 Diocese of Lansing Catholic Women’s Conference. The theme was “Dance in His Vineyard,” and speakers and music presented ways the Lord asks us to dance, and how to respond to his invitation of love.
On Oct. 1, 2015, a Michigan law became effective allowing groups that contract with the state to oversee adoptions to refuse service to any person or couple that conflicts with their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops took place from Oct. 4–25, 2015, in Vatican City. The theme was, “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.” The purpose of the synod was to continue the work of the 2014 Extraordinary General Assembly by reflecting on the challenges associated with the pastoral care of the person and the family as identified in its final relation, and by formulating appropriate pastoral guidelines to address those challenges.
It would be an understatement to describe Pope Francis’ visit to the United States (Sept. 22-27, 2015) as historic – but historic it certainly was. From his addresses at the White House and a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C., to his speeches at the United Nations General Assembly in New York and the Festival of Families in Philadelphia, Pope Francis covered a wide spectrum of subjects while still finding time to celebrate several Masses, canonize a saint, dine with the homeless, bless babies and those afflicted with debilitating conditions and meet with prisoners.
On March 13, 2015, Pope Francis was presiding over a penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica when he announced an extraordinary Jubilee dedicated to Divine Mercy. During his homily for the service, the pontiff drew a clear connection between the sacrament of reconciliation and our heavenly Father, who is “rich in mercy” and who “extends his mercy with abundance over those who turn to him with a sincere heart.”