Catholic News Live shutting down after 9 years

Nine years ago, I started Catholic News Live with the hope to create a great central resource for the latest Catholic news on mobile devices, Twitter, and Facebook.

There were always small roadblocks like Facebook disallowing the type of automated posting Catholic News Live used to post news stories on Facebook. And Twitter's updated API requiring a rewrite of the Twitter integration.

As months turned into years, I also had to recreate the entire engine behind Catholic News Live (it was originally built on top of the Managing News Drupal distribution, but was rewritten in a newer version with a completely custom news aggregation engine!), and I've spent hours every year maintaining the software and servers running Catholic News Live.

The mobile iOS and Android apps both required almost complete rewrites at various stages, which ate up a large amount of time. Then Yahoo! turned off the location analysis engine I was using to place news articles on a world map, so half of the app's functionality was effectively disabled (and now locks up the app if you try accessing the news map on the iOS version!).

Early on, mobile app sales revenue provided enough incentive to continue work on the CNL platform (also, the novelty of my first mobile apps!). But as the years have gone on, the maintenance burden is one of the two major reasons I'm choosing to sunset this project. With an average of two app sales per month in the past year, it now costs four times as much to just keep the lights on than what it earns—and that's not counting any of the hours of work I dedicate to software maintenance, mobile app updates, abuse reports, etc.

The other major reason for the sunsetting is that more and more of CNL's Catholic News sources have either vanished entirely, or no longer provide RSS syndication. If you've never heard of RSS, that's okay—it's basically a way for automated engines like CNL to find new news from websites like Aleteia, the Catholic News Service, and various blogs and diocesan news sites.

One recent example of this trend is—which used to provide an RSS feed of the official news stories from our Church's center. When it moved to, the new site didn't include any RSS feeds. It is hard (if not impossible) to try to continue aggregating news stories from platforms like Vatican News, so my strategy in the past has been to drop news sources without RSS feeds.

For the past three years, Catholic news feed after Catholic news feed has dried up as the move away from RSS and automated syndication (and towards more insular and closed-source social media platforms) has progressed.

I am sad to have to put an end to this passion project of mine, but it's time has come, and I hope anyone who has benefitted from years of Catholic News coverage from CNL will be able to find other comprehensive sources that provide the same timely and balanced perspective of the Catholic faith throughout the world!

Not all is lost! A way to run your own 'CNL' for free

Since Catholic News Live is closing down (I will continue to host a static archive of the website at least!), I wanted to leave behind instructions for building your own free version of CNL's basic functionality:

  1. Sign up for a free Feedly account.
  2. Using Feedly (the mobile app or online), subscribe to all the news feeds (or a subset if you like) that Catholic News Live was processing as of early 2018, archived with direct links to the RSS feeds in this public Google Sheets document: Catholic News Live RSS Feeds as of January 2018.
  3. Use the Feedly website or app (or another reader app that works with Feedly) to keep up with all the latest News!

I wish you all a great 2018, and thank you for having used Catholic News Live in the past!

-Jeff Geerling
January 21, 2018