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 Nov. 29, 2013, Pope Francis revealed to 120 superiors general of men’s religious orders that consecrated life would be the Church’s focus for 2015. During the closed-door meeting, Pope Francis reportedly asked the Church’s religious sisters, brothers and priests to “wake up the world” with their testimony of faith, holiness and hope, according to Catholic News Service.
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.
The recent canonization of Pope St. John Paul II offers the opportunity to reflect on the first major teaching of his pontificate (and perhaps the one that will turn out to be his greatest legacy). The setting for this teaching was his Wednesday General Audiences over a period of five years, during which he put forth what he called the Theology of the Body. Through the Theology of the Body, the saint hoped to call everyone to an authentic understanding and living out of what it means to be created male and female; of what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God.
Today, Christians are the most persecuted religious group on the planet. Two years ago, the National Catholic Reporter pointed to a Pew Forum estimate that Christians face persecution in a staggering total of 133 countries, representing two-thirds of all nations on earth. In the same period, the Reporter stated that the German-based International Society for Human Rights, a secular organization, estimated that 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world are directed against Christians.