For the third year in a row the most read article on the CWR site was about radical Islamic attacks on innocents. In 2013 it was the account by nuns in Syria about the violence and bloodshed that was becoming increasingly commonplace in that war-torn country. In 2014 it was the story of slain journalist James Foley, who was killed in, yes, Syria. This year it is the story of Pope Francis’ response to the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians by members of ISIS.
Four of the top 15 articles (#1, 6, 7, and 15) were about the Holy Father, while President Obama featured in two others (#4 and 12). Other top topics include The Shroud of Turin (#2), Catholicism in France (#3), Cinderella (#13), the terrorist attack in San Bernardino (#11), and liberal theologians (#9). The devil gets two mentions, both times in pieces about spiritual warfare (#5 and 14).
Here are Catholic World Report‘s 15 most read articles of 2015:
1. “Their blood confesses Christ”: Pope Francis on the murder of Egyptian Christians by ISIS (February 16) by Catherine Harmon. Pope Francis responds to the news that 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded by Islamic State militants.
2. The Shroud: Not a Painting, Not a Scorch, Not a Photograph (March 27) by Jim Graves. “One of my favorite testimonials as to the authenticity of the Shroud,” says Barrie Schwortz, an expert on the Shroud of Turin, “actually came from my Jewish mother.”
3. France’s Catholic Revolution (November 23) by Dr. Samuel Gregg. While Mass-attendance rates have steeply declined over the last 30 years, today France is witnessing the rise of an increasingly self-confident—and dynamically orthodox—Catholicism.
4. Why Obama Was Wrong About The Crusades (February 7) by Thomas L. McDonald. President Obama’s remark at the National Prayer Breakfast was a chastisement, and a tone-deaf one at that.
5. Grey is the Devil’s Favorite Color (February 5) by Teresa Tomeo. Even many Catholics dismiss Fifty Shades of Grey as harmless entertainment. They couldn’t be more wrong.
6. The hyperbolic and exhausting papacy of Francis (July 17) by Carl E. Olson. My impression is that many Catholics are weary of the seemingly constant addresses, homilies, interviews, texts—many of which read like lectures—that come from the Holy Father.
7. The Off-the-Cuff and Out-of-Focus Papacy (December 1) by Carl E. Olson. Since chastising orthodox bishops at the conclusion of the Synod, Pope Francis has often resorted to scoldings, ambiguities, and mixed messages.
8. Will a Future Pope Be Forced to Flee Rome? (January 21) by William Kilpatrick. The current arc of history seems to be drawing us back into a very dark past—a time when Islam ruled half the civilized world and threatened the rest of it.
9. Two Years Among the Liberal Theologians (October 31) by Dorothy Cummings McLean. The brain-blowing combination of asserting that what is not Catholic teaching is somehow Catholic teaching and then shrieking like a frightened schoolgirl when the word “heresy” is uttered is what the American Catholic/Jesuit theological academy is all about.
10. Saint Peter Damian, “Gomorrah”, and Today’s Moral Crisis (November 1) by CWR Staff. An interview with Matthew Cullinan Hoffman about his new translation of a treatise against sodomy, pederasty, and clerical corruption penned nearly a thousand years ago by a great reformer and Doctor of the Church.
11. The Shootings in San Bernardino: Another View (December 6) by James V. Schall, S.J. The so-called “Muslim terrorists” do not think of themselves as “Muslim terrorists” but consider themselves to be the only real followers of Mohammed.
12. President Obama tries to silence Christians by spinning the Pope (May 13) by Carl E. Olson. Remarks made at the “Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty” suggest Obama is concerned about Francis’ September visit to the U.S.
13. Kenneth Branagh’s Very Christian Cinderella (March 19) by Bishop Robert Barron. This “Cinderella” is not only free of ideological agendas, it reflects a deeply Christian vision of sin, love, and salvation.
14. “The devil exists and we must fight against him…” (April 1) by Russell Shaw. A new edition of “Manual for Spiritual Warfare” reminds readers that the devil is real and spiritual warfare is deadly serious.
15. Someone is getting lost in all this talk about Francis and rabbits (January 20) by Catherine Harmon. One critical element of Francis’ comments has been lost in much of the commentary I’ve read: the woman the Pope decided to hold up as an example of irresponsible parenting.