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.
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.
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.
On Oct. 8, 2013, it was announced that Pope Francis had convened the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be held in the Vatican Oct. 5-19, 2014. The theme for the assembly will be “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.”