2020 The Year in Review Around the World



  • The 2020 March for Life in Washington, D.C., protesting legalized abortion in the United States, tied itself to the women’s suffrage movement for the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. President Donald Trump was the first president to speak in person in the 47-year history of the March for Life Jan. 24.
  • Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput introduced Cleveland Bishop Nelson J. Perez, whom Pope Francis named as the next archbishop of Philadelphia, at a Jan. 23 news conference in Philadelphia. Bishop Perez is a former auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and a former priest of the Philadelphia archdiocese.
  • The Chinese respiratory coronavirus has spread to almost every province in mainland China, which extended its Spring Festival holiday to delay travel by 500 million people.


  • Cardinal Dolan’s spontaneity delighted the Catholic Cubans he visited during his six-day mission trip, his first to the island, as well as Church-run centers or organizations he toured.
  • The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Feb. 24 upheld the Trump administration’s “Protect Life Rule” that enforces the Title X rule banning taxpayer funds from being used to promote or provide abortion as family planning.


  • Cardinal George Pell was released from prison after 405 days behind bars after the seven judges of the High Court of Australia unanimously overturned the original December 2018 verdict that found him guilty of molesting two 13-year-old choirboys in 1996.


  • The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments approved a special “Mass in the Time of Pandemic” to plead for God’s mercy and gift of strength in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Cardinal Dolan released the following statement April 14: “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, called me this afternoon at about 2:00 p.m. to express his love, concern and closeness to all the people of New York, especially those who are sick, during the coronavirus outbreak.”


  • Pope Francis approved the establishment of the John Paul I Vatican Foundation to preserve and promote the writings, thinking, example and study of “the smiling pope.”


  • Even as the United States grappled with the coronavirus pandemic, outrage, grief and anger over the May 25 killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, outweighed caution as hundreds of thousands turned out nationwide to protest and many of the country’s Catholic bishops joined the call for justice.


  • The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ domestic policy committee said the federal emergency “bridge loans” that dioceses, parishes and other Catholic entities applied for provided a lifeline, allowing “our essential ministries to continue to function in a time of national emergency” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • In one of the term’s most anticipated cases, the Supreme Court June 18 ruled against efforts by the Trump administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.
  • A wave of recent attacks on Catholic statues around the country and fires at two churches prompted the chairmen of two U.S. bishops’ committees to decry “the destruction of these holy symbols of selfless love and devotion.”


  • Some of the country’s most prominent Church leaders appealed to congressional negotiators to include financial support for families to continue to send their children to Catholic and non-public schools in a coronavirus relief bill  being negotiated.
  • Cardinal Dolan declared “pray we must” five times as he offered a prayer to open the first night of the Republican National Convention Aug. 24.


  • Eight days after the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Donald Trump announced Sept. 26 that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, was his nominee to fill that seat. (Confirmed by the Senate, she was sworn in Oct. 26.)
  • The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee Sept. 26 applauded President Donald Trump’s signing the “Born Alive Executive Order” which ensures babies born prematurely or with disabilities receive a basical medical assessment and appropriate care as required by federal laws.
  • Pope Francis named U.S. Archbishop Charles J. Brown, a native of New York, as the new nuncio to the Philippines, the Vatican announced Sept. 28.


  • In his new encyclical released Oct. 4, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” Pope Francis reminds the faithful that “God’s plan for humanity has implications for every aspect of our lives,” said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  • Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, was beatified Oct. 31 at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hartford, Conn.


  • Pope Francis created 13 new cardinals Nov. 28 at the Vatican. They include Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, who would become the first African American cardinal in the U.S. Church, and Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, a retired Italian archbishop and a former Vatican diplomat who has served in the Archdiocese of New York.
  • Although dogged for years by rumors of sexual impropriety, Theodore E. McCarrick was able to rise up the Catholic hierarchical structure based on personal contacts, protestations of his innocence and a lack of Church officials reporting and investigating accusations, according to a Vatican report.
  • Pope Francis called President-elect Joe Biden Nov. 12 to congratulate him on winning the U.S. presidential election. Biden will be the nation’s second Catholic president, after John F. Kennedy in 1960.
  • In a 5-4 decision issued just before midnight Nov. 25, the Supreme Court lifted the pandemic restrictions on congregation sizes at houses of worship imposed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.


  • Marking the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being declared patron of the universal Church, Pope Francis proclaimed a yearlong celebration dedicated to the foster father of Jesus.