The Dispatch: More from CWR...

The 20 most popular Catholic World Report stories and articles of 2018

Hot topics include Freemasons (again!), Pope Francis (of course), Archbishop Viganó, Cardinals Burke and Müller, homosexual scandals, Jordan Peterson, sentimentalism, and more.

(Image: Vjom/

Introducing last year’s list of most read CWR articles, I expressed my surprise about the fact that Sandra Meisel’s article February 7, 2017 article on Freemasons was the most read CWR article of the year. Lo and behold, despite a year full of scandals and surprises, and a flood of mostly negative news within the Catholic Church, Sandra’s article is once again, according to Google Analytics, CWR’s most viewed article of 2018.

Should I suspect a Masonic plot?

Meanwhile, quite a few of the other popular articles, not surprisingly, had to do with the turmoil that burst into the open this past summer and early fall, including the testimonies of Archbishop Viganó, remarks by Cardinals Burke and Müller, and various statements made by Pope Francis. Joseph Hanneman’s pieces on homosexual scandals and the unsolved mystery of Fr. Alfred Kunz were widely, and two of the four (!) reviews of Jordan Peterson’s best-selling (and polarizing) 12 Rules for Life garnered plenty of attention.

Here are Catholic World Report‘s 20 most viewed articles of 2018:

1) Freemasons and their craft: What Catholics should know by Sandra Miesel (Feb 7, 2017) . To see why the Catholic Church has strongly and repeatedly condemned membership in Freemasonry or any of its allied movements requires a glance at Masonic teachings and history.

2) Was Hitler a Christian, an atheist, or neither? (October 26, 2017) by Filip Mazurczak. A review, published in late 2017, of Richard Weikart’s Hitler’s Religion: The Twisted Beliefs that Drove the Third Reich, which examines the controversial—and complicated—issue of the religious views of Adolf Hitler.

3) Archbishop Viganò responds to criticisms of handling of 2014 Nienstedt investigation (August 27, 2018) by Carl E. Olson.  The former nuncio to the U.S. flatly denies assertions that he ordered a stop to an investigation of then-Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

4) Cdl. Müller: “We are experiencing conversion to the world, instead of to God” (June 26, 2018) by CWR Staff. In an exclusive CWR interview, the former prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith discusses tensions over the proposed reception of Holy Communion by Protestants, continued conflicts over the Church’s teaching about ordination, and homosexuality and ideology.

5) Cardinal Burke: It is a “source of anguish” to hear suggestions “that I would lead a schism” (January 22, 2018) by CWR Staff.  “The truth of the matter is marriage is not an ideal. It is a reality,” says Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke in a lengthy new interview with Chris Altieri. “What frightens me a great deal about the present situation of the Church,” he adds, “is what I would call a politicization of Church life and of Church doctrine.”

6) Illinois priest removed for homosexual porn, misappropriating $29,000 (September 8, 2018) by Joseph M. Hanneman. Rev. Barry J. Harmon, 55, who has been removed from ministry and will apply for laicization, had been accused of using a male prostitute in the 1990s.

7) Jordan Peterson’s Jungian best-seller is banal, superficial, and insidious (April 3, 2018) by Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille. The real danger in 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, argues Dr. DeVille, is its apologia for social Darwinism and bourgeois individualism covered over with a theological patina.

8) Why was Pope Francis’ comment about homosexuality and psychiatry changed in official transcript? (September 6, 2018) by Jim Russell. Everything having to do with the current politics of “sexual minorities” revolves around the lie that homosexuality is completely normal and only “unhealthy” if it’s suppressed.

9) A Church drowning in sentimentalism (October 29, 2018) by Dr. Samuel Gregg. Faith and reason are under siege from an idolatry of feelings.

10) Being Frank about Francis (September 4, 2018) by Dr. Douglas Farrow.  The McCarrick scandal, let us all admit, is just one powerful gust in the swirling tempest that now surrounds Francis and threatens to capsize both his pontificate and the barque of Peter itself.

11) Catholicism and Mindfulness: Compatible practices or contrary spiritualities? (January 7, 2018) by Carl E. Olson.  “The Church’s mystical tradition is rarely, if ever, addressed from the pulpit,” says Susan Brinkmann, author of a new book on the practice of mindfulness, “which leaves many vulnerable to being drawn into eastern forms of prayer that are not compatible with Christian prayer.”

12) Pope Francis “takes aim” in “Gaudete et Exsultate”—and misses? (April 9, 2018) by Carl E. Olson.  The many good qualities and substantive passages in Gaudete et Exsultate are often overshadowed, or even undermined, by straw men, dubious arguments, and cheap shots.

13) If Viganò’s “Testimony” is true, Pope Francis has failed his own test (August 26, 2018) by Christopher R. Altieri. The testimony Archbishop Viganò offers is neither perfectly crafted, nor immune to criticism, but it is wide-ranging, detailed, and devastating.

14) “I don’t know if they will ever reveal why he was murdered” (August 15, 2018) by Joseph M. Hanneman.  Some friends believed Fr. Kunz’s work as an exorcist or his investigations of sexual corruption in the priesthood may have been factors in his 1998 murder.

15) Videos allegedly show Illinois priests engaged in homosexual acts (October 4, 2018) by Joseph M. Hanneman. Up to a dozen priests shown on cache of videos, sources say.

16) God bless Fr. LaCuesta (December 17, 2018) by Edward N. Peters. These few, balanced, honest, words were twice interrupted by family members for their failure ‘to celebrate the life of the deceased’.

17) The most unexpectedly religious film of the year (April 10, 2018) by Bishop Robert Barron. One would have to be blind not to see a number of religious motifs in John Krasinski’s absorbing film “A Quiet Place.”

18) The unsolved murder of Fr. Alfred Kunz (August 8, 2018) by Joseph M. Hanneman. Twenty years ago, a priest was found with his throat slit at a parish school in rural Wisconsin. Today, investigators are urging the public to come forward with any clues that might break the case.

19) Pope Francis’ new comments on the death penalty are incoherent and dangerous (December 18, 2018) by Fr. George William Rutler. Pope Francis says that his innovative teaching “does not imply any contradiction” of the Church’s tradition but, one has to say reluctantly, it indeed does.

20) Jordan B. Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life” is a call to clarity in an age of chaos (February 11, 2018) by Dorothy Cummings McLean. Why the University of Toronto professor’s bestselling 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is the most thought-provoking self-help book I have read in years.

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About Carl E. Olson 1207 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.

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