The Dispatch: More from CWR...

The 22 most popular Catholic World Report stories and articles of 2022

This year’s list centers around the Vatican: the Vatican bank, the Vatican Publishing House, Pope Francis, the Synod, synodality, the German church, and related matters.

(Image: Christopher Czermak/

Two topics dominated the most read CWR pieces of 2021: vaccines and liturgy. This year’s list centers around the Vatican: the Vatican bank, the Vatican Publishing House, Pope Francis, the Synod, synodality, the German church, and related matters. But also pieces on gender ideology, Henry VIII, the SSPX, clerical abuse, feminism and marriage, Cardinal Zen, Ukraine, and much more. Oh, and The Godfather.

1). “Pope Francis instructs Vatican entities to move all funds to Vatican bank by Sept. 30” (August 23, 2022). Hannah Brockhaus of CNA on the news that Pope Francis has ordered that the Holy See and connected entities move all financial assets to the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), commonly known as the Vatican bank.

2). “Another assault on John Paul II” (July 27, 2022). George Weigel on a book released by the Vatican Publishing House, titled Theological Ethics and Life: Scripture, Tradition, and Practical Challenges, that “proposes nothing less than a radical change in the way the Church teaches about the moral life.”

3). “Matt Walsh’s film What is a Woman? is both valuable and incomplete” (June 3, 2022). Amy Welborn writes that the 90-minute collection of interviews and commentary on gender identity is well-produced, amusing—and frustrating, because of what it is missing.

4). “Pope Francis, contraception, and the problem of ecclesial authority” (August 4, 2022). E. Christian Brugger offered a short course in understanding ecclesial authority, especially as it bears upon Catholic moral teaching.

5). “Canceling Henry VIII” (April 6, 2022). Joseph Pearce on how Henry VIII was once lionized as an English patriotic icon and as one of the truly great men of history. No longer. But there’s a problem.

6). “Why I left the Society of St. Pius X: An Open Letter to Fr. Gołaski” (January 10, 2022). “I thus began a new search,” wrote Andrew Bartel, “in the place where I had least expected to find Christ’s Church. Was it messy and full of confused and broken sinners? Yes. But I also found something beautiful…”

7). “’We’ve been lied to. Bill Donohue on clergy sexual abuse, homosexuality, and the media” (May 26, 2022). Paul Senz interviews Donohue, who says, “Yes, we dropped our guard—particularly in the 1970s. It was a terrible, terrible decade. And the Church deserves criticism for what happened then. But also, if we’re going to be fair about it, we have to give credit where credit is due…”

8).Ask Your Husband is a superficial, ideological, and incoherent ‘guide’” (March 13, 2022). Abigail Favale argued that Stephanie C. Gordon’s view of femininity and marriage has all the hallmarks of the fundamentalist complementarianism while relying on proof-texting, ignoring context, and dismissing magisterial teaching of the past eighty years.

9). “Fighting the Church may lead you right out of the Church” (August 3, 2022). Anger over long periods of time, wrote Austin Ruse, can change people and drive them away from things they previously believed and loved.

10). “The German Crisis, the World Church, and Pope Francis” (December 14, 2022). “German Catholicism is often said to be in a de facto schism,” wrote George Weigel. “That is an inadequate description of the German crisis. The German Catholicism manifest in the documents of the Synodal Path is in apostasy.”

11). “Benevacantism is scandalous and pointless” (April 14, 2022). “The theory that Benedict XVI is still pope, and so Francis is an antipope,” wrote Edward Feser, “has been a growing fad in some conservative Catholic circles. Here’s why it should both addressed and rejected.”

12). “Cardinal Zen’s arrest and the Vatican’s muted, dangerous dance with China” (May 12, 2022). Christopher R. Altieri argued that the Chinese now know they can arrest a Prince of the Church, confiscate his passport, and hold him for a few hours’ close questioning, without eliciting the naked ire of the Vatican.

13). “Pope Francis, Bishop McElroy, and Amoris Laetitia (June 2, 2022). “Here is why I believe,” wrote Larry Chapp, “that Pope Francis—slowly and brick by brick—is attempting to subvert the theological hermeneutic of the previous two papacies.”

14). “On Ukraine” (February 23, 2022). George Weigel said that four facts that have been been obscured by a massive Russian propaganda and disinformation campaign.

15). “Synodality and sinning against the Holy Spirit” (December 8, 2022). It can be tempting, wrotes Nicholas Senz, “to think that synodality is a mechanical thing, that somehow the Spirit is conjured simply by the process of holding listening sessions and collating reports. Yet the Synodal structures and processes are the means, not the end.”

16). “The ‘New World Order’: Conspiracy theory or political vision after all?” (September 21, 2022). “The decline of the Church in Germany and in Europe is not caused by secularization,” says Cardinal Gerhard Müller in this interview, “… but by the lack of faith, … the coldness of love of Catholics …”

17). “Certain images from the consistory in Rome speak volumes” (August 28, 2022). Christopher R. Altieri on Cardinals Becciu and Mahony and business as usual.

18). “Monasteries linked to the Archangel Michael share a mission and a message” (June 17, 2022). Kathy Schiffer on why Fr. Dwight Longenecker and his children, along with veteran filmmaker Stan Williams, are producing a documentary chronicling their intercontinental family trek to the seven monastic sites known as “the Sword of St. Michael”.

19). “The ‘Old Mass’ and the ‘Novus Ordo’ Mass: Irreconcilable differences?” (July 3, 2022). The relationship between the preconciliar and postconciliar forms of Mass, wrote Fr. Jerry J. Pokorsky, “has become like a problematic marriage needing long-suffering, patience, goodwill, and hatred of divorce.”

20). “Walking with Generation Z: Understanding the Loneliest Generation” (August 11, 2022). Benjamin Eriksen with the debut of a special series that focused on several key issues affecting Gen Z and offered some in-depth guidance on how to reach and evangelize this generation.

21). “Salem and the smoke of Satan” (April 6, 2022). George Weigel on what happens in Salem around Halloween, including Satan-worshipping “Black Masses” in which stolen, consecrated hosts are desecrated, are not mere games played by silly people.

22). The Godfather’s two endings: Lighting a candle and the wrong side of the door” (April 7, 2022). Steven D. Greydanus on how Francis Ford Coppola’s revered New Hollywood masterpiece has one of the best-known final shots in film history—but it almost had a much more Catholic ending.

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About Carl E. Olson 1233 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 Comment

  1. Brugger’s essay on contraception addresses ecclesial authority, currently juxtaposed to a more existential, benevolent Church approach to the painful issues of men, families struggling in what’s an increasingly hostile environment to family.
    We have reached a point when remedial response requires a more realistic, compassionate approach that favors a t adherence to doctrine that is more pastoral. Amoris Laetitia was composed by Pope Francis to achieve this purpose.
    Conceivably a relaxation of doctrinal ‘rigidity’ would be a beneficial approach to a Church increasingly distanced from the realities facing the faithful, many finding little availability, for example, to marital declaration of nullity when finances don’t permit, when evidence is difficult to present due to time elapsed, irretrievability of documents. Ignorance, lack of proper preparation are certainly mitigating factors. Whereas Francis in Amoris addresses the hard realities facing laity [and by inference clergy] some of the premises conscience, doctrine, existential conditions that mitigate responsibility. We might ask if truth is indeed relative to those, barely able to make ends meet, keep a family intact within a culture when so many marriages have been disrupted, new relationships assumed?
    Benedict when emeritus responded to Francis’ in Amoris saying ‘it’s refreshing’. It is a refreshing approach when measured according to the endline premises in Amoris. Critical discernment compassion the rule. As attractive as it is on face value, mitigation of premises that convey revelation neutralize that revelation, neutralize the existential reality of God’s incarnation, death, and resurrection intended to draw us to himself, by becoming like himself. Love in the end is not finding pleasure or solace in the relationship, as in accommodation. Rather it’s whether we’re prepared to pay the price to show we love the Person for who and what they are.

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