I’m always intrigued by our monthly look at the most-viewed stories on our Web site, www.catholicnews.com, because it represents what our readers are paying attention to — whether we like it or not. Journalists often have their own ideas for what is important, but stats like these remind us that readers sometimes have different thoughts.
Still, this month’s list contains no big surprises — except if you find surprising the fact that, so soon after the April visit of Pope Benedict to the United States, only one story related to the trip made it into the top 10 for May.
Here’s the list:
1. Vatican letter directs bishops to keep parish records from Mormons (far and away the most-read story for the month, much of it generated by the buzz it created in the Mormon world).
2. Vatican: Receiving Eucharist kneeling may not be permanent change (because liturgical stories always are well read, such as January’s No. 1).
3. God made pre-humans into people, Vatican newspaper says (ditto any story touching on evolution).
4. N.Y. bishop ends practice of Communion at celebration of the word (see No. 2 above).
5. Liturgy, stem cells, sex abuse among topics at bishops’ June meeting (because what the bishops do is always of interest to avid “inside-baseball” fans).
6. U.S. pilgrims cope with expenses, logistics to get to World Youth Day (a great story our Carol Zimmermann did about the long road to Australia).
7. Ecumenical meeting marks first time Mormons join in papal gathering (the lone top-10 papal trip story this month, generated in part by interest in No. 1 above).
8. Directive from Archbishop Flynn ends lay preaching at Mass (liturgy again).
9. Retired Sydney bishop doesn’t want fight with U.S. bishops over book (about a controversial U.S. book tour by an Australian bishop).
10. Priest calls for new strategies to keep young adults in church (because we all wonder whether our sons and daughters will stick around).
The biggest surprise to me? The fact that Vatican astronomer says if aliens exist, they may not need redemption did not make the list (it finished 13th). We’ve seen before that space-alien stories create their own buzz.