2016 has nearly come to an end, and as we look back over past twelve months, it’s interesting to see which articles were viewed the most. We covered a great many topics, and focused much attention on certain areas of news and analysis, but ultimately, our readers decided what was most important to them.
It is worth noting that exactly half of our top ten stories for 2016 are either reprints or posts from previous years — perennial favorites, if you will. Of the top ten, three relate directly to Fatima, and one relates to Sister Lucia of Fatima and her revelation of something Our Lady told her. Despite his prominence as a topic of our reporting and analysis this year, Pope Francis is in the title of just one story out of our top ten, and even there, it is the result of his administrative decision making that is the principal topic, not so much his own thoughts on the matter. Not a single top ten post was on the topic of Amoris Laetitia, despite over 160 articles this year that mention the post-synodal apostolic exhortation.
So without further ado, here, in order of pageviews, are our top ten posts of 2016:
In what was arguably the strangest moment yet for our publication, on May 21, 2016, we became aware of a Vatican “bollettino” in which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was allegedly quoted in a vehement denial of a story that had been circulating in the Catholic press. Though the bollettino did not mention 1P5 by name, the story in question originated here. In it, Fr. Ingo Dollinger, long-time friend and collaborator of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who recounted to 1P5’s Dr. Maike Hickson (see our #3 post further down this list) how Ratzinger had admitted to him after the official 2000 Vatican reveal of the Third Secret of Fatima that “There is more than what we published.” Using uncharacteristically harsh language toward a priest with whom he had worked on such important projects as the 1983 Declaration on Masonic Associations (an initiative begun by Fr. Dollinger in his role with the German Bishops’ Conference), Pope Emeritus Benedict was attributed with saying “never to have spoken with Professor Dollinger” (his old friend) “about Fatima”, and that Dollinger’s statements on the matter were “pure inventions, absolutely untrue'”.
In my response to these statements, which tallied 27,812 views and earned the tenth spot on this list, I found myself in the strange position of having to address the rebuttal of a living pope, and to explain my skepticism over whether, in fact, the quotes attributed to the Pope Emeritus were authentic. (In her own followup post months later, Dr. Hickson revealed a letter she had written in German to Pope Emeritus Benedict on the matter — one she was assured was hand-delivered to the former pope by a contact in Rome.)
Just a week before Thanksgiving, Dr. Maike Hickson ran a piece with new information about a purge at the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL), including re-written statutes that removed any requirement that the members be Catholic, or that they would have to take the Lejeune Oath to defend the dignity of a person “from conception until (natural) death”. In addition, as of January 1st, 2017, all existing members of the academy would be eligible for replacement by Pope Francis, having had their offices automatically expire at the close of 2016. With Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia — a Kasperite — put in place as the new head of the PAL in August of this year, the entire organization appeared to be in the process of being remade according to Pope Francis’ vision. The post — which earned 30,667 views — came as part of a series of articles detailing sweeping changes at the Vatican under the new, progressive direction that became clearly prominent in 2016.
In a surprising decision, the eminent Catholic philosopher and theologian, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand — widow of Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand, a luminary of the 20th century Church — revealed for the first time in over 40 years a conversation that she had with Msgr. Mario Boehm, whom, as Dr. von Hildebrand recounted, “had been one of the top editors of L’Osservatore Romano for many years”. When the topic of Fatima came up, her husband had asked the Msgr., “Why was the third secret of Fatima not revealed?” It had, after all, been expected in 1960, according to Our Lady’s wishes. Msgr. Boehm had responded cautiously, indicatring that the reason was because of its content, which spoke of “infiltration of the Church to the very top.”
With the addition of a salient introduction by moral theologian Fr. Brian Harrison, and a further recounted conversation between the von Hildebrands and former communist agent Bella Dodd about the way in which communism had infected the Church. Dodd had revealed to the von Hildrebrands that the infiltration was so deep, she knew of four cardinals active in the Vatican at the time who were active communists. As one might expect from such revelations, the piece had a significant impact, garnering 45,508 views.
Since it was first published in August of 2014, Andrew Bieszad’s historical review of the confrontational rhetoric deployed by a number of great saints against Islamic ideology has been one of our most popular posts. In a world where open borders are leading to the Islamification of Europe, unspeakable violence and sexual assault against citizens of host countries, and the proliferation of ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks, the last thing people with good sense want to hear is the pope telling them that “authentic hospitality is a profound gospel value that nurtures love and is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism”. Bieszad offers us the stark contrast of thought from luminaries such as St. John Damascene, who called Mohammed “a false prophet” and the “superstition of the Ishmaelites…a forerunner of the Antichrist”; St. Thomas Aquinas, who said that Muhammed “seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure” and that his teachings “mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity.”; St. Juan de Ribera, who excoriated Islam as “an impious, blasphemous, vicious cult, an innovention of the devil, and the direct way into the fires of hell. It does not even merit the name of being called a religion,” and who said that it is an ideology that would be promulgated by violence “until God placates his anger and destroys this pestilence from the earth.” Bieszad cited other saints, including two groups of Spanish martyrs who died at Muslim hands, but not before condeming Muhammed as “a precursor of the Antichrist” and the Islamic faith as one “which denies the divinity of Christ, does not profess the existence of the Holy Trinity, refutes baptism, defames Christians, and derogates the priesthood” and which they “consider[ed] to be damned.”
This bracing honesty from the saints of antiquity has kept this post among our most read for the better part of three years; with an additional 49,549 views this year, it sits comfortably at #2 in our top ten posts of all time with 185,257 views.
#6 – Sister Lucia: “Final Confrontation between the Lord and Satan will be over Family and Marriage.”
A blog post we have reprinted several times since it first appeared on June 16, 2015, this is arguably one of the most gripping revelations about the present crisis in the Church ever published. The post derives its title from an excerpt of a Rorate Caeli-translated 2008 interview with Cardinal Carlo Caffarra — now one of the Four Cardinal signatories to the Amoris Laetitia dubia. In the interview, Caffarra describes a letter he unexpectedly received from Sister Lúcia de Jesus dos Santos of Fatima upon the occasion of his opening of the first John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome. Caffarra had written to Sister Lúcia through her bishop to ask for her prayers for the success of the endeavor, and was surprised to receive a lengthy letter from her in response. In it, she said, “The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” She cautioned Caffarra not to be afraid even though “anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be contended and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue.” According to Caffarra, she said that we need not fear because “Our Lady has already crushed its head.” With 62,701 views in 2016, the post is at #3 in our top ten posts of all time, with a total of 183,257 pageviews and 31,000+ Facebook shares.
On the second day 1P5 was online, we published a post from Jeff Stempel of Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts on both why and how to pray the rosary. This 101-level post almost never saw the light of day, because I was concerned that it was too remedial for our intended audience. Jeff’s enthusiasm for the rosary was undeniable, however, so we worked together to create a final draft that struck the right balance of history, instruction, and perhaps most importantly, the alleged promises of Mary to those who would honor her with this favored devotion. The post picked up almost 66,000 new pageviews this year (despite not having been re-posted at all in 2016), giving it the number 7 spot on our top ten posts of all time with 93,452 views.
This reprint of a September 2014 blog post recounting Msgr. Charles Pope’s story of a terrifying encounter with an apparently demonically-possessed person during the consecration at a Mass he offered nearly two decades ago garnered 70,522 views in 2016. But since it was first published, this brief blog post — unusually short by our standards at less than 800 words — is actually our most-viewed post of all-time, with a grand total of 268,623 pageviews.
On the morning of May 15, 2016 — Pentecost Sunday — I received a voice mail message from 1P5 contributor Dr. Maike Hickson, who had just gotten off the phone with Fr. Ingo Dollinger, an elderly German priest who was close to St. Padre Pio and who had been a long-time friend and collaborator of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Later that day, we published the account of her phone call with Fr. Dollinger, in which he confirmed a story that had been circulating in Catholic circles for years, indicating that he had gone to Rome for the June, 2000 publication of the Third Secret of Fatima by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but was surprised to hear something less than what previous conversations with then-Cardinal Ratzinger had led him to believe amounted to the full Third Secret. According to Dollinger, when pressed, Ratzinger had admitted to him, “There is more than what we published.”
So widely was this story read — amassing 49,423 of its 91,558 pageviews in the first 24 hours — that the Vatican issued a bulletin with an official denial from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the first (and to our knowledge only) time he had broken his silence to address a current story facing the Church. Our writeup on this suspicious communique was seen at the top of the page as our 10th most viewed story of the year.
This breaking news story out of France that showed priests being dragged from the altar of a TLM offered at a condemned parish in Paris (slated to be turned into a parking lot) by police in riot gear really hit a nerve — especially because it happened just days after the killing of Fr. Jaques Hamel in the parish of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy. The story appeared on August 3rd, 2016 — just hours after the event transpired — and amassed a stunning 73,348 pageviews in its first 24 hours online. By the time the coverage had played itself out, it wound up at 98,454 pageviews, with nearly 15,000 Facebook shares.
This laser-accurate homage to C.S. Lewis’ famously imagined demonic dialogue was far and away our top post of the year with 122,366 views. Originally published at 1P5 in May of 2015, it was a reprint of a 2014 post on the website of Kelsey Slade, a Protestant writer who blogs about marriage, family, and faith issues at her website, Organizing Life With Littles. This post found its origins here after my wife sent it to me, praising it for its insights. After reading it, I reached out to the author, who graciously allowed us to reprint it. Since it first appeared at 1P5 in 2015, it has amassed a total of 146,833 views and nearly 40,000 Facebook shares, making it the fourth-most viewed post overall in our history.
And that’s it for our top ten list for this year. We look forward to sharing more fantastic content with you in 2017!
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.