2019: The Year in Review Around the World



• Pope Francis has named Father William J. Muhm and Father Joseph L. Coffey as auxiliary bishops for the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. Bishop Muhm, 61, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and since December has served as administrator of Most Precious Blood parish in Walden. He has served as a U.S. Navy chaplain, retiring with the rank of captain last year. Bishop Coffey, 58, is a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who has served since 2001 as a U.S. Navy chaplain, holding the rank of captain. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who heads the military archdiocese, ordained the new bishops March 25 in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

• In a vote on the eve of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Senate Jan. 17 failed to pass a measure that would have codified the Hyde Amendment, which forbids federal funding for most abortions or abortion-related care.

• The New York State Legislature passed the Child Victims Act into law Jan. 28. The Catholic Church in the state had removed its opposition to the Child Victims Act, or CVA, after the Legislature a week earlier expanded the retroactive window to include both private and public institutions, noting that the support of all victims—regardless of where the abuse occurred—had been a critical reason the bishops could not support past versions of the bill.


• The long-awaited “Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church,” nicknamed the abuse summit, was an extraordinary and historic gathering that surpassed many expectations while perhaps disappointing others.

• The Vatican’s removal from the priesthood of Theodore E. McCarrick “is a clear signal that abuse will not be tolerated,” said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Feb. 16. The Vatican said he was found guilty of “solicitation in the sacrament of confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”

• Democrats in the U.S. Senate voted almost uniformly to block the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill that mandates elevated standards of care for live-born children who have survived an abortion procedure, as well as instituting tough penalties for doctors who fail to provide this care.

• Pope Francis signed a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed John Henry Newman, the English cardinal, clearing the way for his Oct. 13 canonization. The Vatican announced Feb. 13 that Pope Francis had signed the decree the day before.


• Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, praised President Donald Trump March 21 for taking seriously the assaults she said conservative groups are facing on campuses around the country. Trump’s executive order bars federal research grants to institutions that violate students’ free speech on campus and stifle competing perspectives. She was among about 100 conservative activists at the White House for the signing of the order.


• Cardinal Dolan gathered a group of New York’s religious, business and community leaders at St. Patrick’s Cathedral April 18 to announce the establishment of the “From St. Patrick’s to Notre Dame” fund to assist with the restoration and rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was seriously damaged by a fire three days earlier.


• U.S. Church leaders welcomed the norms issued by Pope Francis May 9 giving clear direction to the global Catholic Church about reporting abuse and holding Church leaders accountable, saying it confirms what they already have in place and also gives them a way forward.


• A longstanding tradition will end this summer as the Knights of Columbus discard their ceremonial capes and plumed chapeaus of its fourth-degree members. The new uniform for fourth-degree members worldwide will be a jacket and beret. The ceremonial swords will continue to be part of the uniform.

• Catholic schools must help parents teach young people that biological sex and gender are naturally fixed at birth and part of God’s plan for creation, said the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education in a document published June 10.


• The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced July 15 it would begin implementing the Trump administration’s “Protect Life Rule” to bar Title X funds from being used for promoting or providing abortion as family planning.

• The July 25 announcement by the Justice Department that it is reinstating the federal death penalty for the first time in 16 years was unwelcome news for Catholic leaders who have advocated against capital punishment.


• Three U.S. bishops’ committee chairmen have called on the nation’s elected officials “to exert leadership in seeking to heal the wounds” of the country caused by the Aug. 3 and 4 mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, and urged an end to hateful rhetoric many see as a factor in the violence.

• A new study about the level of Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist showed that a majority of Catholics do not believe that the bread and wine used at Mass become the Body and Blood of Christ.


• Now is the time to abandon our dependence on fossil fuels and move, quickly and decisively, toward forms of clean energy,” Pope Francis said as he marked the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation Sept. 1.

• The Sept. 13 disclosure that the preserved remains of more than 2,200 aborted babies had been found at the rural Illinois home of the recently deceased Indiana abortionist Ulrich “George” Klopfer has sparked outrage and demands for immediate investigations by authorities.


• The final document of the Oct. 6-27 Synod of Bishops for the Amazon looked at ways the Church can increase its ministry in the region. But at the heart of the document was the need to bring the Good news to the Amazon, a mission that includes safeguarding the indigenous peoples, cultures and land that are under constant threat of annihilation.


• The Trump administration Nov. 1 announced a proposed rule to allow faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to follow their deeply held religious beliefs and not place children with same-sex couples.

• On the second day of their Nov. 11-13 fall assembly in Baltimore, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops elected Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles to a three-year term as president of the USCCB—he is the first Latino to be elected USCCB president—and Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit as conference vice president.


• As part of the celebrations for his 50th anniversary of priesthood, Dec. 13, Pope Francis chose to personally present a multi-volume collection of writings by his longtime spiritual director, the late Jesuit Father Miguel Angel Fiorito.