Special Reports

Pope Francis in the U.S.

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.

Changes to Annulment Process

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.

Laudato Si’

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.

Same-Sex Marriage

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.


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