Our guide to the most memorable events in the Catholic world in 2016…
1. The murder of Fr Jacques Hamel at a church in Normandy
In July Fr Hamel, 86, was celebrating Mass at St Etienne-du-Rouvray
church in Normandy when two ISIS attackers burst into the
Witnesses reported that the priest said “Be gone Satan” before
they slit his throat.
Pope Francis later called Fr Hamel a martyr.
2. Millions of young Catholics attend World Youth Day in Kraków
Pope Francis posed for a selfie with young Catholics after he had
lunch with them at the archbishop’s residence in Kraków at the end of
He celebrated the closing World Youth Mass in the presence of more than a million young people.
The trip marked the Pontiff’s first visit to eastern Europe and included a visit to Auschwitz.
3. The release of Amoris Laetitia and the ‘dubia’ debate
The Pope released his 255-page apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family in April.
Seeking clarity over the divorced and remarried and Holy Communion, four cardinals submitted five dubia to the Pontiff in September.
The Pope has declined to answer them.
4. The canonisation of Mother Teresa
After being fast-tracked for canonisation, Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint in September.
Nuns gathered to watch the canonisation Mass of St Teresa of Calcutta
inside the Mother House, the Missionaries of Charity headquarters, in
5. Pope Francis invites refugees to live at the Vatican
After a visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos with
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Pope Francis gave a home to 12
Syrian refugees at the Vatican.
The refugees were chosen by lottery.
6. The conclusion of the Year of Mercy
The Jubilee Year of Mercy saw a focus on acts of kindness and forgiveness.
Pope Francis said that his visit to the neonatology division of the
San Giovanni hospital in Rome in September stood out as one of his most
significant memories of the year.
7. Pope Francis visits Sweden to mark 500 years since the Reformation
The Pope called for reconciliation among Christians at an ecumenical
prayer service marking the Reformation anniversary in Sweden in October.
He greeted the Lutheran Archbishop Ante Jackelén, Primate of the
Church of Sweden, in an effort to mend relations between Catholics and
8. Iraqi Christians return to liberated churches
An offensive led by the Iraqi army has enabled Christians to return to their homes near Mosul.
In the above photograph, a Christian woman cries after entering St
Addai church, which was damaged by ISIS fighters during their occupation
of Keramlis village.
The church bell tolled for the first time in more
than two years as Christians gathered to worship.
9. Catholics help Donald Trump to victory
Donald Trump won the US election in November.
The president-elect was helped to victory by Catholic voters.
polls suggested that Catholics voted 52 per cent for the president-elect
and 45 per cent for Hillary Clinton.
10. Cardinal Sarah asks priests to start celebrating Mass facing east
At a conference in London, Cardinal Robert Sarah invited priests to face east when they celebrate Mass.
He said: “It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a
common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the
same direction – eastwards or at least towards the apse – to the Lord
The Vatican dismissed the proposal.