2018: A Year in Review Around the World


• Cardinal Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, decried the Senate’s failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, and called on senators to “rethink” their stance on late-term abortions. He called the vote “appalling” in a statement released late Jan. 29.

• Pope Francis called on indigenous people of the Amazon to work with missionaries and bishops to shape a Church with an “Amazonian and indigenous” face. He visited Chile Jan. 15-18 and Peru Jan. 18-21.

• Cardinal Dolan, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, told pro-life advocates at a Jan. 18 Mass opening the National Prayer Vigil for Life in Washington, D.C., that the fight to end abortion is about civil rights. The 45th annual March for Life, held the following day, drew a crowd estimated at 100,000.

• March 14, exactly one month since the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., students from around the country walked out of their schools in protest of the nation’s gun laws for 17 minutes. The time was meant to pay tribute to the 17 students and staff members killed that afternoon by gunfire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

• Pope Francis decreed Latin-rite Catholics around the world will mark the feast of “the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church,” on the Monday after Pentecost each year.

• The chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life and religious freedom committees, Cardinal Dolan and Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, said it was “deeply disappointing” that Congress omitted the Conscience Protection Act from the congressional funding bill for fiscal year 2018. They issued a joint statement March 22.

• “Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy,” Pope Francis wrote in “Gaudete et Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”), his apostolic exhortation on “the call to holiness in today’s world. He signed the exhortation March 19, and the Vatican released it April 9.

• Pope Francis appointed three women as consultors to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It marked the first time women and laypersons were named as active contributors, not support staff.

• Cardinal Dolan, the U.S. bishops’ pro-life chairman, in a May 18 statement, praised the Trump administration’s move to reinstate Reagan-era regulations banning any family planning clinic that receives Title X federal funds from making abortion referrals or sharing space with abortion providers.

• A proposed law drafted by the New York State Catholic Conference would make it mandatory, when a miscarriage occurs before 20 weeks, for hospitals to let parents know they can get a fetal death report, enabling them to then get a burial permit and obtain their child’s remains. Many New York Catholic hospitals already have a policy to do so.

• From New York to Denver, the country’s Catholic bishops have joined a chorus of organizations, institutions and high-profile individuals urging the Trump administration to stop separating children from their parents as they seek respite in the U.S. from dire conditions in their home countries, largely in Central America.

• Pope Francis elevated 14 bishops and archbishops from 11 nations to the College of Cardinals at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican June 28.

• Cardinal Dolan, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called July 19 for a national prayer campaign effort that “the change in the U.S. Supreme Court will move our nation closer to the day when every human being is protected in law and welcomed in life.”

• Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the College of Cardinals of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, and has ordered him to maintain “a life of prayer and penance” until a canonical trial examines accusations that he sexually abused minors. The Vatican press office said July 28 that the previous evening Pope Francis had received Archbishop’s McCarrick’s letter of “resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals.”

• Building on the development of the Church’s teaching against capital punishment, Pope Francis has ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assert “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and to commit the Church to working toward its abolition worldwide. The change was announced Aug. 2.

• Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, struck a hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican Sept. 13 to discuss the sexual-abuse crisis in the United States.

• The Church’s V National Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas, Sept. 20-23, drew more than 3,000 Hispanic ministry leaders, clergymen and other staff from dioceses throughout the country.

• For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Representatives of the Vatican and the Chinese government signed what they described as a “provisional agreement” on the appointment of bishops.

• New Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, 53, a Catholic, said Oct. 8 he has no “bitterness” over a contentious confirmation process that ultimately ended with a Senate vote Oct. 6 to confirm him for the seat on the high court left vacant by the July 31 retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

• Carrying Pope Paul VI’s pastoral staff and wearing the blood-stained belt of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, Pope Francis formally recognized them, and five others, as saints of the Catholic Church Oct. 14 at Mass at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

• Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl as archbishop of Washington but did not name a successor. The pope’s decision was announced Oct. 12. Cardinal Wuerl had been facing pressure to resign after an Aug. 14 grand jury report detailing sexual-abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses painted a mixed picture of how he handled some of the cases when he was bishop in Pittsburgh from 1988 until 2006.

• Pope Francis formally closed the monthlong Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and vocational discernment during an Oct. 28 Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

• A pastoral letter on racism was overwhelmingly approved in a Nov. 14 vote at the U.S. bishops’ fall assembly in Baltimore.
n Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of the Diocese of Jackson, Miss., read the edict to open the sainthood cause for Sister Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A., at Mass Nov. 18 at St. Peter the Apostle Cathedral in downtown Jackson.

• The Ohio House for the second time in two years has passed a ban on abortion after an unborn child’s heartbeat is detected, which could occur within the first six weeks of pregnancy. It passed Nov. 15 by a vote of 60-35.

• According to a report issued Nov. 21 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the number of abortions overall and the abortion rate have declined each year for a decade.


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