From Tim Russert to healthy priests: Our top stories for June

It’s always fascinating to look back at our most-viewed stories for the previous month, both for what they say about our readers’ passions as well as how they highlight our best reporting. June had its share of both, from the liturgical stories that always draw attention to a great story on priests’ health that’s been getting numerous requests for reprint rights.

Here’s our Top Ten for June:

1. Russert remembered for his fondness for church, faithfulness. Though some say the Washington media tributes to Tim Russert were overdone and overreported, wasn’t Russert the model of what a lay Catholic should be? This story and another from our Rome bureau showed not just Russert the journalist but Russert the Catholic lay witness.

2. Seven deadly sins alive and well today, says Jesuit journal. Interesting to many because it takes something most of us learned in our youth and applies it to contemporary society.

3. Ten texts help crack pope’s pontificate, mission, ministry. A great analysis by our Rome bureau chief. If you missed it the first time around — or even if you didn’t —  you also have to look at the related blog item with links to some of Pope Benedict’s most important texts.

4. Vatican: Receiving Eucharist kneeling will be norm at papal liturgies. Our previous story on Communion reception was No. 2 for May, so it figures that the most recent development would also be a popular item.

5. Nine-foot monstrance unveiled as part of new Divine Mercy shrine. Though not necessarily related to the next item on this list, the fact that it was popular during the same month that the International Eucharistic Congress was held in Quebec says something about the renewed popularity of this devotion.

6. Tens of thousands accompany Eucharist through streets of Quebec. The lede says it all: “Nearly 25,000 Catholics from around the world poured through the narrow streets of Quebec City, accompanying the Eucharist in an outpouring of religious fervor absent from this city for at least half a century.” Also, check our blog for other items from last month’s gathering.

7. Pope would like Tridentine Mass in each parish, Vatican official says. Anything on the debate over how Mass should be celebrated gets lots of attention.

8. Priests urged to care for their bodies the way they care for souls. As noted above, this story has been leading the list for reprint requests because it touches on a mostly hidden issue: the physical well-being of our priests.

9. Marian images need artistic rehabilitation, says Vatican newspaper. How we imagine Mary has been a subject of debate for centuries, and this story on whether to depict Mary breast-feeding baby Jesus touched a nerve with some. And it reminds me of another popular story we had last December about Bethlehem’s Milk Grotto, where Mary is said to have nursed her divine child.

10. Vatican to scrap formal protocol when pope meets president. More proof that, if you were paying attention, you shouldn’t have been surprised by Pope Benedict’s unusual Vatican Gardens tour he gave to our 43rd president.

And here’s a story that didn’t make the list but also got some attention in the blogosphere: Lambeth Conference: Time of reckoning for ecumenical dialogue — a must-read (and timely, with Lambeth coming up in less than two weeks) for anyone concerned with ecumenical relations.

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