The Dispatch: More from CWR...

The 20 most popular Catholic World Report stories and articles of 2019

Favorites include interviews with and an address by Cardinal Robert Sarah, and articles about tumult in Rome, Theodore McCarrick, Toy Story 4, belief in the Real Presence, Pope Francis, and more.

(Image: Luis Núñez |

Since going online exclusively at the start of 2012, Catholic World Report has grown steadily in both content and traffic. This past year saw an increase of nearly 15% in traffic over 2018, with a remarkable number of readers—almost exactly 60%—being between the ages of 18 and 34. And while the majority of CWR readers are from the United States, we’ve seen a notable growth in readership from Europe, Australia, India, and parts of Africa.

As usual, our most read articles cover a range of topics, but most (not all, thankfully) of the Top 20 are united by the themes of unrest, turmoil, and controversy.

Without further ado, here are Catholic World Report‘s 20 most viewed articles of 2019:

1) “We must rebuild the cathedral … We do not need to invent a new Church” by Cardinal Robert Sarah (June 21, 2019). “As a bishop,” said Cardinal Robert Sarah at a May 25th conference in Paris, “it is my duty to warn the West: behold the flames of barbarism threaten you!”

2) Called out of the priesthood? by Fr. Charles Fox (June 17, 2019). Some general thoughts regarding petitions for laicization, and a specific critique of Father Jonathan Morris’ recent public statements.

3) The Vandals sack Rome….again by George Weigel (July 29, 2019). Is there a red hat in Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia’s future? If so, it will be as a reward for knee-capping scholars of impeccable scholarly credentials and personal probity, deeply beloved by their students.

4) Fr. James Martin is not thinking with the Church by Fr. Steve Mattson (August 29, 2018). What Fr. Martin writes and says seems guided more by GLAAD than by God, and is more aligned to the thinking of the World than the Word.

5) Cardinal Sarah: “I believe that we are at a turning point in the history of the Church” by Carl E. Olson (September 23, 2019). The outspoken cardinal from Guinea speaks at length about faith, atheism, secularism, hope, liturgy, prayer, and much more in a new National Catholic Register interview.

6) “Uncle Ted” and Me… by George Weigel (May 29, 2019). “In order to set the historical record straight, however, and to draw some salient lessons for this Catholic moment from my personal experience of McCarrick’s mendacity, I offer the following.”

7) Full text of Benedict XVI: ‘The Church and the scandal of sexual abuse’ by Catholic News Agency (April 10, 2019). In a previously unpublished essay, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI addresses the sex abuse scandal, its context, and the Church’s response to it.

8) Toy Story 4 marred by artistic inconsistency and amoral messages by Nick Olszyk (June 30, 2019). What a sad end to a beautiful franchise. So long, partner.

9) A priest who offered his life in reparation for the sins of priests by Dr. Patrick Kenny (February 17, 2019). “I believe,” wrote Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J., who died as a martyr of charity in the First World War, “that Our Lord is asking for victims who are willing to suffer much in reparation for sins, especially those of priests.”

10) The Church is plunged into the darkness of Good Friday (Part 1) by CWR Staff (March 29, 2019). “Today,” states Robert Cardinal Sarah, “I can say without fear that some priests, some bishops and even some cardinals are afraid to proclaim what God teaches and to hand on the doctrine of the Church.”

11) Sex in the Garden by Dr. Jared Ortiz (August 5, 2019). Contrary to popular opinion, Saint Augustine does not denigrate sex.

12) The Two Popes is full of serious errors—and several surprises by Filip Mazurczak (December 18, 2019). Despite numerous inaccuracies, a couple of which are downright harmful, I found The Two Popes to be a very moving work of, yes, Catholic cinema.

13) Shocked, shocked! On Catholics and belief in the Real Presence by Amy Welborn (August 8, 2019). Most Catholics don’t go to Mass, have received very little religious education in their life, and attend liturgies that de-emphasize the unique presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And we’re surprised that most Catholics don’t believe in transubstantiation?

14) The problem with Pope Francis’ letter to the U.S. bishops by Amy Welborn (January 3, 2019). The framework and assumption that what’s most at stake here is institutional credibility is exactly what led to cover-ups and protection of clerical perpetrators. Exactly.

15) In Pennsylvania, Carmelites plan a “micro village” according to St. Teresa’s vision by Jim Graves (April 8, 2019). Eleven sisters are the founding members of a new hilltop monastery in the Diocese of Harrisburg.

16) Wokeness kills comedy, and Aziz Ansari can’t save it by Titus Techera (July 21, 2019). In Ansari’s new comedy special, he apologizes for the bad things he’s said and done; he asks forgiveness; and he reflects on the suffering of this world. It’s a camp revival meeting for progressives.

17) St. Peter Damian’s battle against clerical homosexuality offers useful lessons for today by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman (February 21, 2019). Much of St. Peter Damian’s reform struggle seems strikingly relevant to the modern situation of the Church, offering an incisive and useful critique of sexual immorality and laxism among the clergy.

18) “Team Viganò” versus “Team Francis” one year on by Christopher R. Altieri (August 27, 2019). We are seeing the worst ecclesiastical leadership crisis in at least five hundred years play out as a popularity contest.

19) “She had a heart for souls”: The life and cause of Servant of God Maria Esperanza de Bianchini by Jim Graves (July 21, 2019). “Maria Esperanza exemplified the beatitudes,” says Fr. Timothy Byerley, “and therefore was continually reconciling people with God and with one another.”

20) A story of restoration: An Anglican community finds home in the Catholic Church by Joanna Bogle (May 18, 2019). A London pastor and members of his flock see challenges—and signs of hope—after entering full communion with the Catholic Church.

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About Carl E. Olson 1217 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.


  1. Thank you , as we can also thank God for the good in our lives and times , that a world with billions , in one sense , is far more peaceful at so many levels , than in the past , which had far fewer persons –
    One of the sources of the evils that afflicted The Church , in the times of St.Peter Damian , possibly had its roots , in the crusades – .
    Taking on the added debts and wounds in the lives of other cultures and nations , often afflicted by vast evils , needing the Christ like fidelity , in holiness ; our times too , no less challenged in similar manner , yet , thank God that the army , esp. in heaven , that is set to be for The Church is far greater too . 🙂
    A world that has been consecrated to The Mother, who has authority over her sons , along with all whom she can call /command to come to the aid ; her ever greater role ,to unseat the powers of lies and impurities that work to destroy the peace in the truth and holiness of human dignity ; may such be what moves us all into the New Year ,in the unity in gratitude , to sing , ‘ holy ..holy ..’ , with the holy angels , for every occasion of wounded memory too , trusting in the transforming love and power , in The Spirit .
    Blessed New Year – 🙂

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