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.
On December 12, the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Across the Americas, millions mark the day with pilgrimages, especially to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, with songs and festivities at their local parishes, and, of course, with the Holy Mass.
On November 21, 2014, the Roman Catholic Church will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. This Second Vatican Council document was issued on November 21, 1964, by Pope Paul VI after the bishops assembled at the council approved it by a vote of 2,151 to 5.