… and speaking of extraterrestrials …

Brother Guy with a Vatican telescope in Arizona. (CNS file/Judith Britt)

As followup to our post earlier today, we bring you this blog item titled “Colbert, aliens and the Vatican,” by John Norton, editor of Our Sunday Visitor. Norton embeds in the blog a clip of last night’s appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” by Vatican astronomer Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, whose writing we featured on these pages during last year’s world Synod of Bishops on the Bible.

On Colbert, Brother Guy plugs his new book, “The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican,” published by OSV. The six-minute segment on the Colbert show (scroll to the bottom of the OSV blog post) is worth your time if you can stand Stephen Colbert’s shtick, which in this case takes up the first three minutes. (Like Howard Cosell — and I guess that’s dating me — you either love Colbert or hate him.)

Cremation with a smaller carbon footprint

From our client newspaper The Catholic Register in Toronto comes a futuristic story about bio-cremation, with a carbon footprint 20 times less than regular cremation.

Franciscan Sister Renee Mirkes, director of the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Neb., claims that once you get past “the yuck factor” it’s clear there’s nothing unethical or un-Catholic about alkaline hydrolysis.

Most-viewed CNS stories for November — bishops and extraterrestrials?

What do the U.S. bishops’ general meeting and extraterrestrial aliens have in common? Nothing really, except that they were four of our five most-viewed stories on our public Web site, catholicnews.com, in November.

That the bishops’ meeting would be on our monthly top-10 list this time is no surprise. Extraterrestrials are on the list because of their gee-whiz nature. And there’s also the fact that the most popular stories on most news sites tend to come from traffic being driven from other sites, something many in our industry call the “Drudge Factor,” named for links from the popular Drudge Report.

(UPDATE: We had our own Drudge moment in 2005, and it involved — you guessed it — extraterrestrials! See Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit’s book.

Here then is the complete list:

1. Bishop Morin calls claims against CCHD’s work ‘outrageous’ (Nov. 18)

2. Bishops OK marriage pastoral with many changes, some opposition (Nov. 18)

3. Chaplain describes ‘total chaos’ after Fort Hood shootings (Nov. 6)

4. Vatican-sponsored meeting discusses chances of extraterrestrial life (Nov. 10)

5. Vatican astronomer says if aliens exist, they may not need redemption (May 14, 2008 — it’s obvious that No. 4 on this list generated renewed interest in this year-old story.)

6. Married priests? For the Vatican, still an exception to the rule (Nov. 13)

7. Sistine Scriptures: New book underlines Bible stories behind the art (Nov. 18)

8. Cardinal Rode defends apostolic visitation of US nuns (Nov. 5)

9. Bishops approve revised directives on withdrawal of food, water (Nov. 19)

10. Pornography is ‘a sexual Katrina’ tearing men down, says speaker (Oct. 30)