2010: an overview

On the last day of the first year of this blog’s existence, I think it’s nice to do what everyone and their dog is doing: offering an overview of the year gone by. I’ll present the ten most popular blog posts by page view, much like the monthly stats I’ve been sharing here (December’s statistics will follow tomorrow, once December is actually over).

It is clear that a blogger can’t do without a network. The top-scoring posts have reached so many viewers not only because of their topics, but to a large extent thanks to people who have linked to them. And to be honest, it is something of a feather in one’s cap if a noted blogger like Fr. Tim shares something one has written.

So, without any further ado, here’s my list:

1: Pornography or art? (17,630 views). A link from a Polish news-gathering website to this post about alleged pornography found on Belgian Cardinal Danneels’ computer (seized during the illegal police raid on his home) resulted in the largest peak in visitors this blog has yet seen. It also resulted in some discussion, here and on Twitter, about the photo itself. Some did not consider it disturbing in itself, but I maintained that the that, since it can apparently so easily be considered child pornography, there is something rotten going on regardless.

2: What to do about the sacrilege displayed in Obdam? (1,153 views). A news item that made headlines in Catholic blogs and news sites across the world, and which led to serious discussion on my blog as well. It was one of the first times that I decided to call for specific action in my blog, suggesting people contact Father Paul Vlaar and/or Bishop Jos Punt to relate their concerns. Many people, among them parishioners from Obdam chimed in in support of Fr. Vlaar, but many others tried to clearly express why a football Mass, no matter how much fun it is, has no place in the Catholic Church.

3: “The Belgian Church has been too passive” (1,022 views). Thanks to a link from Father Tim Finigan, my translation of an old interview with the new archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Msgr. André-Joseph Léonard, gave my blog the first considerable peak in visitor traffic. Archbishop Léonard has continued to be a considerable presence in the blog throughout the year, certainly not least due to the abuse crisis, which continues to hit Belgium particularly hard.

4: A gentle pope, but rock solid in the execution (975 views). Another translated interview, this with Msgr. Georg Gänswein about Pope Benedict XVI. Msgr. Gänswein’s popularity can be considered the main reason for this post’s popularity,but perhaps many readers also wish to know about the man in white. And who better to tell them that than the Holy Father’s personal secretary?

5: A diocesan statement about Fr. Paul Vlaar (859 views). Continuing the saga surrounding Obdam and Fr. Vlaar’s football Mass, the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam released an official statement in a very bad English translation. I re-translated the short piece, which was once more quite seriously covered across the world (the statement itself, not my translation).

6: Introductie op de Geest van de Liturgie – onofficiële vertaling (606 views). My first serious translation – of Msgr. Guido Marini’s address at the Clergy Conference in Rome – garnered much attention. A summarised version was published in the bulletin of the Dutch Latin Liturgy Society, and of all of my translations this has been the most popular. Not too shabby for a blog which is pretty much all in English.

7: In memoriam: Bishop Tadeusz Ploski (574 views). The tragedy of the plane crash that killed much of Poland’s government and military officials led me to write something about on of the clergymen killed. Many people, from Poland and elsewhere, found their way to that post via search engines. A blog post, therefore, that seemingly fulfilled a need for many.

8: Het probleem Medjugorje (486 views). My translation of an interview with Fr. Manfred Hauke, expert on apparitions and the Blessed Virgin, about the dubious events that led to the popular pilgrimage to Medjugorje, led not only to a considerable number of views, but also discussion. It is a topic that many people feel passionate about, and like the abuse crisis and the form of liturgy, it is often hard to have a balanced discussion about it. And, I admit, perhaps I was a bit in over my head as well when sharing this topic. A blogger, after all, has some responsibility to write about what he knows.

9: Under the Roman Sky (366 views). A very short post with the trailer to a film about the Holocaust in Rome and the role of Pope Pius XII in that. I still need to see it, by the way, and many others are interested as well, it seems. The false accusations that Venerable Pius XII was a Nazi collaborator are very persistent, and I still hope that this film can, in some small way, help to dispel those rumours.

10: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (320 views). A report of some personal experiences of mine, when I visited St. Agnes’ church in Amsterdam for a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, presided over by Archbishop François Bacqué, the nuncio to the Netherlands. An event that is still remarkable enough that it triggered some considerable attention. The website of the FSSP-run St. Agnes linked to my post, and they may be thanked as well for the traffic it received.

All in all, this first year has not at all been bad for my blog. Of course, there is always the pressure of time, especially now that I have a job as a teacher and a girlfriend to devote time to. For 2011, I hope to continue posting regularly about the things that happen in the Catholic Church worldwide and especially in the Low Countries.

For now, I wish all my readers

A VERY BLESSED NEW YEAR!

Stats for February 2010

The second month of my blogging here saw a small decrease in viewers, but that was not unexpected. After all, Father Tim and other influential bloggers did not link to me this time around. In total 3,096 views were registered, which is a good number. Certainly more than I had expected two months ago.

Four topics drew lots of viewers: Medjugorje, same-sex marriage, euthanasia and Communion & homosexuality. The latter three are the stereotypical topics that the secular world always connects to the Church and the blog stats meter could tell.

Below is the top ten of best-viewed posts. I am very happy to see some of my translations making it in there.

1: Het Probleem Medjugorje: 121
2: The problems of choosing death: 94
3: Some thoughts on same-sex marriage: 84
4: STS-130: The Rise of the Cupola: 72
5: Boodschap voor de Vastentijd 2010: 71
6: ”I did not want this disturbance” – Fr. Luc Buyens’ homily: 68
7: Diocesan decision: no Communion: 59
8: STS-130 launch report: 54
9: ”The Belgian Church has been too passive”: 53
10: Further developments around Reusel and Priest attacked… for being Catholic: 50

People who found my blog via search engines where mostly interested in Lent, Father Luc Buyens, STS-130 and Fr. Manfred Hauke. An  unusual search string was “endeavour two engines”, a term used during the ascent of space shuttle Endeavour that indicates that the orbiter can make it to a given destination (orbit, abort site) on two engines. And indeed, Google coughs up just two results for that search, the first of them being my blog.

Fr. Manfred Hauke responds to his critics

Father Manfred Hauke, he of the Medjugorje criticism, has given an interview to answer criticism against his person and his statements about Medjugorje and the so-called apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary there. The original text of the interview is on Kath.net, and Catholic Light offers an English translation. Following my previous post about this, I  offer Fr. Hauke’s comments in Dutch.

In my parish, Medjugorje leaflets are luckily rare. In the past there used to be adverts for pilgrimages to Medjugorje in the parish bulletin, but that seems to be suppressed by either the cathedral administrator or the diocese. In what I can only assume was a freak coincidence, a lady handing out leaflets of Medjugorje appeared in the same week that Fr. Hauke’s interview was published. I politely declined when she wanted to give one to me.

The problem of Medjugorje

The alleged pilgrimage site Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina has recently been in the news again. The site, where the Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have appeared virtually daily since 1981, was visited by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, despite the fact that Rome does not acknowledge the apparitions as authentic. Local Bishop Ratko Peric had to explain that fact once more.

Medjugorje is a popular place for thousands of pilgrims, and the prayer, conversion and sacraments received there are often considered evidence for the authenticity of the site. So what is the problem?

Mariologist and theologian Fr. Manfred Hauke (pictured) was asked about that by German Catholic news paper Die Tagespost. It’s an interesting read, sometimes a bit heavy on theology (not that that’s a bad thing), and it emphasises some of the dubious claims made by the seers and priests associated with Medjugorje, and also presses for clarity and openness about it from the side of the Church.

Because of Medjugorje’s enormous popularity, especially among European pilgrims, I thought it important to also have the interview available in Dutch. Many Dutch parishes and other Catholic organisations still perform pilgrimages to Medjugorje. These are even advertised in national Catholic newspapers. Like Fr. Hauke says:  “If a new investigative commission reaches a recognition that certain characteristics indissolubly connected with the phenomenon of the apparitions speak against their authenticity, then the love of truth demands that this be made known with all clarity and that Catholic Christians be warned expressly against “pilgrimages”.

An English version of the interview has been duly translated by Catholic Light.