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 CNS Story:

YEAREND-VOTES Dec-15-2006 (450 words) With graphic. xxxn

Relations with Islam, Pope Benedict named top story, person of 2006

By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic editors voted Islam's relations with church and society as the top religious news story of 2006, followed closely by continuing debate over immigration reform in second place and the Iraq War in third.

Pope Benedict XVI, in the first full year of his papacy, was far and away the editors' choice as newsmaker of the year. President George W. Bush was second and Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., was third.

The poll was the 45th annual survey of Catholic News Service client newspapers. This year's ballots were distributed Dec. 6 and the deadline for returns was Dec. 15.

When the editors' poll was first conducted in 1962, the overwhelming choice for top story was the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Last year, editors chose the death of Pope John Paul II as the top religious story of the year and Pope John Paul as the top newsmaker.

Editors were asked to vote for the top 10 news stories from a list of 26 selected by CNS staff, and the top five newsmakers from a list of 17. Votes were weighted by the rankings editors gave -- 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second, etc., and five points for top newsmaker, four for second, etc.

With 26 editors in the United States submitting ballots, the maximum points a story could have received was 260. The most a newsmaker could receive on the five-point scale was 130. Some editors' ballots included ties, resulting in half-points in some cases.

For the first time in recent memory, first-place votes were scattered among 10 different stories, with the first-place winner receiving seven first-place votes, the most for any topic.

Here is the editors' choice of top 10 stories and top five newsmakers of 2006, followed by points received in the weighted ballot count and, in parentheses, the number of first-place votes received.

STORIES

1. Islam, 177 (7)

2. Immigration, 168 (5)

3. Iraq, 127 (3)

4. Church finances, 94 (2)

5. "The Da Vinci Code," 93 (1)

6. Clergy sexual abuse, 83

7. Encyclical, 76 (3)

8. Middle East, 74 (1)

9. Communion, 70

10. Hispanic Catholics, 69 (2)

Also receiving first-place votes for top story of the year were the crisis in Darfur and the 2006 elections.

NEWSMAKERS


1. Pope Benedict XVI, 115.5 (22.5)

2. President George W. Bush, 54 (1)

3. Bishop William S. Skylstad, 41

4. St. Mother Theodore Guerin, 35.5 (1.5)

5. Justice Samuel Alito Jr., 30.

Sharon Daly, who retired this year as vice president for social policy at Catholic Charities USA, also received a first-place vote.

END


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