Death of former Pope Benedict XVI
The Catholic Church was rocked by the death of one of its most influential stewards with the passing of former Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Dec. 31, 2022.
Aged 95, Benedict had spent his latter years retired and living at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in Vatican City, where he had lived since his resignation as Pope, and eventually passed.
His predecessor, Pope Francis, described him to the U.S. News as a kind and noble man and a “gift to the Church.”
His funeral took place at the turn of the new year, on Jan. 1, 2023, with tributes flowing in from dignitaries and officials all over the world including U.S. President, Joe Biden; British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak; and King Charles III of the United Kingdom.
Known as “the Pope who resigned,” Benedict served as the appointed custodian of the Catholic faith for eight years before officially stepping down in 2013. In so doing, he became the first pope to resign from his role rather than hold it for life since Gregory XII in 1415, a record timeline spanning over five centuries.
Dozens die in Buffalo snow blizzard
At least 34 people died in Erie County due to a massive snowstorm that hit Buffalo, New York over the break.
Dubbed the “blizzard of the century,” by New York State Governor, Kathy Hochul, several people found themselves stuck at home or in their cars unable to go outside as the snow continued to build, eventually causing power outages in several parts of the city lasting for up to 72 hours.
Whilst a travel ban was ultimately issued to try and control the situation, families of the deceased, as well as several others, aimed their complaints and criticisms at Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, questioning the timing of the ban and citing that an earlier-issued ban could potentially have saved some of the lives which were lost in the blizzard.
Kevin McCarthy elected House Speaker, Hakeem Jeffries makes history
California Republican Kevin McCarthy was finally elected House Speaker after what was a long, process, on Jan. 7, 2023.
His election came after several days of heated negotiation and 15 drawn-out rounds of voting, including a confrontation between himself and Rep. Matt Gaetz that took place during the 14th round, which all combined to make it the longest speaker contest in 164 years.
Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries also became the first ever Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress, succeeding Nancy Pelosi.
Jeffries’ succession of Pelosi signals the changing of the guard and the end of an era for House Democrats, as they attempt to forge a new path for the first time in two decades without Pelosi at the helm.