Miss any of these? Most-viewed CNS stories for August.

Quite a variety of August stories made our Top 10 list for last month. Let’s get right to it:

A story on the Islamic center near ground zero was the CNS most-viewed story for August. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

1. New York mosque controversy echoes anti-Catholicism of another era (Aug. 20)

2. Use of new Roman Missal to begin in US at Advent 2011 (Aug. 20)

3. Papal Masses in Britain will use some new English texts (Aug. 19)

4. Conversion: Ancient prison went from pagan to sacred Christian site (July 30)

5. Pope will not accept resignation of Dublin auxiliary bishops (Aug. 11)

6. Impact of Mother Teresa’s work, prayer still felt 13 years after death (Aug. 26)

7. Vatican welcomes US plaintiffs’ decision to end abuse lawsuit (Aug. 10)

8. Benedictines sue in federal court for right to sell caskets they make (Aug. 16)

9. Papal visit to Great Britain to include much more than beatification (Aug. 18 — the full trip schedule)

10. ‘God Squad’ logo may change, but priest’s mission remains the same (Aug. 19)

Archbishop signs on to keep abuser in prison

Those who read our touching story about abuse survivor Elizabeth Ann Murphy, courtesy of  The Catholic Review in Baltimore,  might be interested in a petition she is promoting to keep her abuser, former Catholic school teacher John A. Merzerbacher, in jail. Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore is among those who have signed on (see page 26 — signature 1268).

God’s design

VATICAN CITY — Stephen Hawking’s new book, The Grand Design, has triggered strong reactions from religious leaders.

The book by the British author is due to be released next week — just a week before Pope Benedict XVI’s scheduled visit to Great Britain Sept. 16-19.

In his new book, Hawking, who is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, poses the question whether the universe needs a creator; he concludes that God is not a necessary part of creation because the laws of physics and gravity show that something can come from nothing.

In the past he has asserted that religious beliefs and science were not incompatible — a postion the Vatican does agree with.

While the Vatican hasn’t come out with a reaction to the book yet, one of our favorite Vatican astronomers, Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, just sent us his reaction to Hawking’s claims:

“The ‘god’ that Stephen Hawking doesn’t believe in, is one I don’t believe in either. God is not just another force in the universe, alongside gravity or electricity. God is not a force to be invoked to ‘swell a progress, start a scene or two’ and fill the momentary gaps in our knowledge.

“God is the reason why existence itself exists. God is the reason why space and time and the laws of nature can be present for the forces to operate that Stephen Hawking is talking about.”