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Buttonsrnshowing U.S. President Donald Trump are seen in Washington during his Jan. 20rnswearing-in as the country's 45th president. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)    

Trumprnsworn in as President of the United States, millions protest

On Jan. 20, Donald J. Trump was sworn intornoffice as the 45th President of the United States, a Republicanrnvictory that sparked a wave of women marches, protesting the election of a man theyrnsaw as anti-women.

The day after the inauguration, anrnestimated two million people protested in the nation’s largest cities. Thernmarch’s organizers were concerned with Trump’s stance on female reproductivernrights, immigration reform and LGBTQ rights.

Trump has garnered little support from thernmedia and Hollywood elite, however some credit Trump with raising the Dow JonesrnIndustrial Average to a record high last month. Under Trump, unemployment fell torna 17-year low at 4.1 percent and U.S. companies have expanded operation on U.S.rnsoil, rather than shipping jobs overseas.

Still, Trump came into office with a 45rnpercent approval rating and ends the year at 36 percent, with a first year approvalrnaverage of 39 percent, the lowest first year average since at least 1953, accordingrnto Gallup polls.


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Palestinians burns a U.S. flag during clashes with Israeli troops near the West Bank city of Ramallah Dec. 7. (CNS/Mohamad Torokman, Reuters)

Tensionsrnescalate between Israel and Palestine as Trump denies bishops’ request

On Feb. 2, the U.S. bishops wrote to the newlyrnappointed Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, about their concerns for peace inrnIsrael and Palestine, specifically requesting that the U.S. refrain from movingrntheir embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"Moving the embassy to Jerusalem wouldrnerode the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution, and is a threat to pursuingrnpeace and ending conflict,” Bishop Oscar Cant√∫, the USCCB’s Committee onrnInternational Justice and Peace, wrote. “Its impact would incite andrndestabilize the area, compromising U.S. security. As Pope Francis declares,rn'the two-state solution must become a reality and not merely a dream.'"

Bishop Cant√∫ added that this year “marksrnthe 50th anniversary of a crippling occupation of the West Bank,rnEast Jerusalem and Gaza ..."

However, on Dec. 6, President Donald Trump announcedrnhis decision to formally recognize Jerusalem asrnIsrael's capital, saying the embassy would move to Jerusalem, which angered Palestiniansrnwho also claim Jerusalem asrntheir capital. Pope Francis responded saying, “I make a heartfelt appeal sornthat all commit themselves to respecting the status quo of the city, inrnconformity with the pertinent resolutions of the United Nations.” 


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Pro-life supporters protest in front of a Planned Parenthood center in early February in Philadelphia. (CNS photo/Charles Mostoller, Reuters)

U.S. bishops welcome congressionalrnaction to nullify Title X policy

On March 30, the Senate nullified an Obamarnadministration policy that prohibited states from redirecting Title X familyrnplanning funding away from abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, andrntowards community health centers, who provide comprehensive primary andrnpreventative healthcare.

"The clear purpose of this Title Xrnrule change was to benefit abortion providers like Planned Parenthood,"rnCardinal Timothy Dolan said, who praised the congressional ruling.

Title X of the Public Health Services Act, passedrninto law by Congress in 1970, was aimed at providing contraceptives to low-incomernfamilies in order to control population growth, with Planned Parenthoodrnbenefiting as the largest recipient of the policy funding.

On April 13, President Donald Trump signedrnthe resolution into law.


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A child receives treatment inside a field hospital in Idlib, Syria, after an April 4 chemical attack. (CNS photo/EPA)

Syrianrngovernment launches chemical attacks against own civilians

On April 4, the Syrian government allegedlyrnwaged a chemical attack on its own people, targeting a rebel-held town in northwesteSyria with an odorless nerve agent. The nighttime attack killed more than 80rncivilians, including at least 20 children, with hundreds of survivors sufferingrnnerve agent reactions. Many, who attempted to provide aid to the dying, succumbedrnto the gases and died a slow, agonizing death.

The chemical attack prompted PresidentrnDonald Trump to launch the first U.S. military strike on Syrian governmentrnfacilities on April 7.  Trump said of thernchemical attack, “No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

Pope Francis called the chemical attacksrn“an unacceptable massacre” saying he was “watching in horror at the latestrnevents in Syria.”


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Thernstatue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried during an Oct. 12 procession at thernShrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. The procession was on the eve of thern100th anniversary of the Oct. 13, 1917, "Miracle of the Sun." (CNSrnphoto/Paulo Cunha, EPA)    

Fatimarnapparitions celebrate 100th anniversary

The apparitions of Fatima, hailed by thernVatican as the most prophetic of modern times, celebrated its 100thrnanniversary of the first Marian visit to a small village in Portugal, where thernBlessed Virgin foretold the Second World War and the immense threat ofrnCommunist Russia.

The Blessed Virgin asked that the world bernconsecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a request that St. John Paul IIrnfulfilled March 25, 1984, which Sister Lucia, one of the three visionaries, confirmedrnas in keeping with the Blessed Virgin’s request.

Our Lady of Fatima often asked that thernRosary be prayed every day for peace in the world. “I am Our Lady of thernRosary,” she told the children. “Continue to say the Rosary every day.”


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Participants look at a screen showing a world map with climate anomalies during the World Climate Change Conference at Le Bourge, France, in this Dec. 8, 2015, file photo. (CNS photo/Stephane Mahe, Reuters)

Trumprnrejects Paris Agreement citing U.S. economy

On June 1, President Donald Trump announcedrnhis decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, calling the agreementrn“non-binding” and one that imposes “draconian financial burdens” on the U.S.rnwhile allowing the world’s top polluters, such as China, to increase emissions.

The U.S. bishops had strongly urged thernpresident to support the climate change initiative, writing in a statement tornSecretary of State Rex Tillerson, “This nuanced understanding of climaternchange, which you appear to share, creates space for reasonable people tornrecognize, without controversy, that the climate is changing and highlights thernimportance of adaptation in response.”    

Trump, who has made disparaging commentsrnabout climate change for years, promised to seek other ways, including possiblyrnrenegotiating the Paris agreement, to create “the highest standard ofrnenvironmental protection.”


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CharliernGard is picturedrnin this undated family photo. (CNS photo/family handout, courtesy Featureworld)    

BabyrnCharlie Gard dies following months-long legal battle

The medical treatment of a baby born with arnrare genetic disorder drew international attention as tens of thousands of supportersrnraised more than $1.7 million for life-saving treatment, while both PresidentrnDonald Trump and Pope Francis offered emergency medical care.

Born Aug. 4, 2016, Charlie Gard was diagnosedrnwith encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, a rare disorderrnthat had left him with possible brain damage. His parents, Chris Gard andrnConnie Yates, hoped to give their child experimental therapy proposed byrnmedical experts, but British courts overruled the parents’ wishes, sayingrnfurther treatment would prolong Charlie’s suffering. When treatment was laterrnfacilitated, Charlie’s health had already deteriorated beyond hope ofrnintervention. 

The media storm sparked debate over thernrights of parents to make life-saving decisions for their children. CharliernGard died July 28.


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Arnwoman holds her dog as she arrives to high ground after evacuating from herrnhome because of floods caused by Tropical Storm Harvey Aug. 28 in Houston. (CNSrnphoto/Adrees Latif, Reuters)    

Hurricanernseason brings unusually severe storms

On August 17 the first of three category 4rnhurricanes hit the U.S., marking the worst hurricane season in years andrnbeginning a heartbreaking saga of evacuation, destruction and death. Harvey,rnIrma and Maria hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico during the year’s unusuallyrnfierce hurricane season. It will take years, according to experts, for arncomplete recovery from these natural disasters.

The hurricane victims were able to count onrnthe prayers of Pope Francis, who sent his condolences during each hurricane. Afterrnthe hurricanes had passed, Pope Francis was able to speak via video chat tornchildren from Texas and Puerto Rico, who had suffered the tragedy of thernstorms. On Oct. 26, Pedro Garcia, a 9-year-old, asked how a loving God couldrnsend such heavy rains, to which the pope responded, “There isn’t an answer.”rnAdding, this question can only be answered with “solidarity, with a hug and tornbe close to those who suffer.”


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DeferredrnAction for Childhood Arrivals supporters demonstrate near the White House inrnWashington Sept. 5. (CNS photo/KevinrnLamarque, Reuters)    

Trumprnrescinds DACA, tells congress to find permanent solution

On Sept. 5, the Trump administrationrnformally rescinded DACA, a policy implemented five years ago to protect anrnestimated 800,000 Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S.rnas children, who now face deportation.

The decision prompted a flood of criticismrnfrom Democrats, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Pope Francis, butrnPresident Donald Trump said Congress would be responsible for finding arnpermanent solution with a deadline of March 5. "It is now time forrnCongress to act!" President Donald Trump wrote in a statement.

Congress is set to vote on a number ofrnbills that could solve the DACA immigration crisis, with Archbishop José H.rnGomez of Los Angeles urging Catholics in the U.S. to call their representativesrnand voice their support of DACA beneficiaries. Please visitrnaction.thenextamerica.org to voice your support for Dreamers.


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Peoplerngather at a makeshift memorial Oct. 4 for victims of a mass shooting along thernLas Vegas Strip. (CNS photo/ChrisrnWattie, Reuters)    

Concertrnin Las Vegas ends in deadliest U.S. mass shooting

On Oct. 1, a gunman opened fire on a crowdrnof concert-goers on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, marking the deadliest massrnshooting committed by an individual in the U.S., with 58 people killed andrnanother 546 people injured.

Stephen Paddock, 64, who was identified asrnthe gunman, committed suicide and was found with 23 firearms, large quantitiesrnof ammunition and a number of high-capacity magazines.

Shortly after the shooting, 18 DemocraticrnU.S. Senators introduced the Keep Americans Safe Act, which hopes to regulaternlarge capacity ammunition feeding devices.


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PopernFrancis greets a young Rohingya refugee from Myanmar during a Dec. 1rninterreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace in the garden of thernarchbishop's residence in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romanornvia Reuters)    

PopernFrancis visits Myanmar, speaks on behalf of persecuted ethnic group

On Nov. 27, Pope Francis became the firstrnpontiff to visit Myanmar (also known as Burma), a country with a long historyrnof civil war, communist rule and, most recently, ethnic cleansing.

Pope Francis has continually spoken outrnagainst the violent attack on the country’s Rakhine Muslim minority, sayingrnthey “have been suffering for years. They have been tortured, killed, justrnbecause they want to keep their traditions and their Muslim faith.”

Although Pope Francis met with arnrepresentative from the Rakhine Muslim community in Bangladesh, where hernvisited following his time in Myanmar, Pope Francis refrained from using thernterm “Rohingya” while in Myanmar. He later explained that he instead describedrnthe situation and offered suggestions for peace without naming names in order tornensure that the dialogue would continue.


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Firefighters battle a massive wildfire Dec. 10 near Ojai, Calif. (CNS photo/Gene Blevins, Reuters)

SoutheCalifornia wildfires take a deadly turn

Two tragic deaths have resulted from the Californiarnwildfires that continue to blaze through the state.

Firefighter Cory David Iverson, 32, whorndied battling the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, was honored with a hero’srntribute during a 200-mile funeral procession, where fellow firefighters andrncivilians lined up to pay their respects.  The second fire victim, Virginia Pesola, 70, ofrnSanta Paula, died as she tried to evacuate.

The Thomas Fire became California's largestrnofficially recorded fire on Dec. 22, when it surpassed the 273,000-plus acrernCedar Fire. The Thomas Fire has burned an estimated 281,620 acresrn— more than 440 square miles — and destroyed more than 1,000rnstructures, from multimillion-dollar homes to telephone poles and garages.rnAnother 280 structures have been damaged, firefighters said. The fire is nowrn88% contained.

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