The Dispatch: More from CWR...

What I learned talking with thousands of skeptics on Reddit

The Reddit audience—mostly young men between the ages of eighteen and thirty—are especially interested in four major themes.

(Glenn Carstens-Peters/

I just finished my second dive into the Reddit AMA world. One of the most popular websites in the world, Reddit is a forum for all sorts of online conversations and presentations. The AMA (for Ask Me Anything) is a twenty-first century version of the medieval quodlibetal questions, during which a game theology professor would entertain any inquiry that came from the floor. Now, things are a bit cruder and more rough and ready on Reddit than they were in the universities of the Middle Ages, but you get the idea.

When I engaged in the exercise last year, I received almost 12,000 questions and comments, making mine the third most commented-on AMA after those of Bill Gates and Jordan Peterson. This time, I’ve received over 15,000 comments and counting, making mine the second most commented-on AMA of the past year, just after Bill Gates and ahead of Bernie Sanders! I mention this not to show how popular I am with the Reddit crowd (I’m sure most of them have never heard of me), but rather to demonstrate just how massively interested young people are in the questions of religion.

If you can make it through the plethora of obnoxious, juvenile, and insulting comments, you will actually learn a great deal about what is on the minds of the Reddit audience—mostly young men between the ages of eighteen and thirty—when it comes to religion. I would identify four major themes: proving the existence of God, the problem of suffering, the determination of why one would choose one religion over another, and homosexuality. Each of these issues was addressed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times. Permit me to speak, very briefly, of each in turn.

So first of all, the question of proving God’s existence came up again and again. Are there rational grounds for believing in God? How do I know that there is a God? Can God’s reality be demonstrated to someone who does not believe in the Bible? What struck me very positively in this regard is that the young people on Reddit seemed to have a powerful interest in God—and that’s no small thing. They weren’t treating the proposal of God’s existence as prescientific nonsense or self-serving fantasy. They were honestly wondering about God, restlessly searching for him. What struck me a bit more negatively is that there seemed to be little or no sense that Christian theologians and philosophers have been presenting and defending arguments for God’s existence for centuries. That the Reddit audience hadn’t an inkling of what these proofs and demonstrations might be is, at least in part, a failure of the Churches in their ministry of education.

The second major theme was the problem of evil. Now, it has been said that all of theology commences with and ultimately centers around the issue of justifying the ways of God in the presence of great suffering; so in a way, the intense interest of young people in this question is another encouraging sign that they are eager to think theologically. It would obviously require a lengthy book even to scratch the surface of this matter, but I would make just this one observation. I told a number of my conversation partners that there is only one mystery more puzzling than the problem of evil, and that is the mystery of goodness. Evil does not, strictly speaking, exist. It is the lack of a good that ought to be there, and as such, it is always parasitic upon the good. So as deeply frustrating and confounding the problem of evil is, it is always outpaced by the “problem” of goodness—namely, why goodness and beauty should exist at all. This, I suggested, might be at least a fresh way to address the issue.

The third principal motif was this: How could one possibly know that one’s religion is better or truer than any other? To a large extent, this query is born from the relativism that holds sway everywhere in the culture of the West and, relatedly, from the conviction that toleration is the one indisputable value. Behind the question is the assumption that any attempt to claim truth in regard to a given religion is simply tantamount to arrogance and bigotry. Those who posed it seem to feel that religions are more or less like hobbies. You have yours and I have mine, but neither one of us would be justified in imposing them on each other or on anyone else. And what all of this reveals is the breakdown in anything like genuinely public religious argument. That a person can or should actually make a case rationally for a religious perspective strikes the Reddit audience as absurd. In response to one of these questioners, I offered a brief demonstration of how one might argue, on Thomist grounds, for the legitimacy of a Trinitarian monotheism. I would be flabbergasted if that little exercise actually convinced my interlocutor, but my more modest hope is that it might show him/her that objective argument is possible in regard to religious matters.

Finally, my Reddit friends were massively concerned with the issue of homosexuality. Repeatedly, probably a thousand times, I heard that the Church hates gays and is hopelessly behind the times in regard to welcoming and affirming homosexuals. I won’t even attempt in the context of this article to address the moral issues here, but permit me to say that the reaction of the Reddit audience is ample proof that the language the Church has used to articulate its teaching in regard to this question has been ineffective to say the very least. Those well-versed in Aristotelian teleological ethics understand what is meant by the claim that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” but I’m afraid that the vast majority of people took that language to mean that homosexual persons are twisted and contemptible. Was this a deeply incorrect reading of the Church’s teaching? Absolutely. But is it an indication that we can and must do a great deal better in getting that teaching across with greater compassion and clarity? I think the question answers itself.

I will confess that my two forays into the Reddit space have been more than a little discouraging. If you dare, look at the dismaying number of just plain aggressive and mean-spirited comments. But at the end of the day, I take those 15,000 comments as a deeply encouraging sign that the restless human heart is still searching for the only one who will satisfy it.

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Bishop Robert Barron 203 Articles
Bishop Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. He is the creator of the award winning documentary series, "Catholicism" and "Catholicism:The New Evangelization." Learn more at


  1. Bishop Barron,
    I truly appreciate your observations on this issue. Please continue to probe this issue and communicate your insights.

  2. “Evil does not, strictly speaking, exist”???

    But it does in the person of Satan and his fallen angels. Evil is real and looking for the small ways to erode our faith.

    • Patrick,
      I have a different take on this. At the very least, Satan has some goodness because he exists and all being has inherent goodness. Nevertheless, he behaves in an evil way because he rejects so much of what is good.

      • Lucifer once face to face in the glory of God in defiance of God rejected Him. The fallen angels were in the presence of the Most High and rejected him anyway thus separated themselves forever from Him WHO is goodness and all good and we can only have goodness and love if we have a connect with Him who IS Good and Love himself. You are mistaken; good or evil, light or darkness, Satan is personified EVIL, merciless and malicious.

        • The Devil is evil in terms of what He lacks. That is scholasticism 101. Go read some Aquinas or St Augustine for more info. Evil is not some existing negative anti-substance. Satan doesn’t personify evil as if the Devil was some sort of reverse god of evil like Angra Mainyu in the Zoroastrian religion or as if evil was some type of positive existing essence rather than a privation of being.

          That the Devil sucks and is bad is not in dispute. That we explain why he sucks and what about him sucks using the correct Catholic Philosophy and Theology is what we need here.

    • Patrick,

      Bp. Barron isn’t saying evil is not real, but he is most correct to observe that evil does not exist in its own right. Several examples may help.

      Darkness is real but it does not exist in its own right because it lacks a source. Instead, darkness is the absence of light, which is real and exists in its own right because it has a source. In a dark room, turn a light on and off to see this in action.

      Likewise, cold is real but does not exist in its own right because it lacks a source. Cold is the absence of heat, which is real and exists in its own right because it has a source.

      Evil, darkness, and cold have no source which generates them – each is real enough in that we encounter and must deal with their effect, but each fails to exist on its own because it lacks a source and therefore is the complete absence of that which is its antithesis.

      Basic Philosophy 101, used as the structure upon which Catholic theology is built. Ask any Theology professor or student.

    • Patrick Moreland,

      What he means is metaphysically evil doesn’t really exist as any scholastic will tell you evil is privation of what a thing ought to have but doesn’t.

      Evil “exists” in the sense a donut hole exists even thought a donut hole is an absence of donut.

      >But it does in the person of Satan and his fallen angels. Evil is real and looking for the small ways to erode our faith.

      They are “evil” in the sense that they lack a good they where meant to have but by falling have lost forever. As far as they have “being” they have good. That is Aquinas 101.

      • Leslie,
        Yup. Great idea.
        The internet is a quagmire but I always have to remind myself that there’s a real human being behind the comments made. Even those who act like trolls have human faces & souls.

  3. my Ancient philosophy teacher started the course by studying the books of Ecclesiastes and Job along with Peter Kreeft’s book “Three Philosophies” [a commentary on these books, as well as, Song of Songs] and the young people really responded

  4. Intrinsically disordered is a phrase of gentle clarity. We must condemn the action not the sinner but we must condemn the action.

    Perhaps the problem is that against the face of all scientific evidence, you assume that homosexuals are born that way and not conditioned that way. If you had some hope in your own ability to preach the truth and meaning of human sexuality, you might just set these sinners free.

    • Susan………..can you explain your comment a little more? I believe Bishop Barron’s comments explain the Church clearly. We love the sinner but hate the sin. Clearly the phrase “intrinsically disordered” is saying the behavior or act of homosexuality is the sin. The Church also believes and has said that BEING homosexual is not the sin. The Church DOES condemn the action. Why do you say, “Perhaps the problem is that against the face of all scientific evidence, you assume that homosexuals are born that way and not conditioned that way. If you had some hope in your own ability to preach the truth and meaning of human sexuality, you might just set these sinners free”? From what I have read about Bishop Barron, I have never seen any “assumption” that homosexuals are born that way.
      Just trying to understand your thinking. Thank you, Susan.


      • “The Church also believes and has said that BEING homosexual is not the sin.”

        By “BEING homosexual” you seem to mean “tempted to commit homosexual acts.”
        Maybe we should quit labeling people with a particular temptation as if that’s their identity. If you’re tempted to commit theft, do we call you a thief, as if that’s the most important thing about you? If you’re tempted to tell lies, do we clump you together with others tempted to do the same thing and call you perjurers?

        • Leslie,

          The evidence fails to indicate that it is others who label “people with a particular temptation as if that’s their identity.” In fact, it is quite the opposite. it should be obvious to all that we live in a time where many folks loudly proclaim their “identity” according to their sin.

          Interestingly, the rest of us sinners do NOT identify ourselves according to our sins, leaving this practice to those who “identify” as homosexual or transgender. I’ve yet to see anyone identify as a murderer, rapist, embezzler, or hold-up man/woman/????.

        • @Leslie

          There is nothing wrong with labeling a person with a persistent objectively disordered sexual attraction to their own sex as being “homosexual” or “gay”. Anymore than labeling someone who has a persistent objectively disordered tendency to abuse the consumption of alcohol as an alcoholic. Even a recovered alcoholic still labels themselves in that manner.

          BTW I notice on this thread people not using the correct terms found in the CCC. Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. That is the acts themselves as acts of sex are disordered and thus evil. A homosexual inclination is merely objectively disordered in that thought the final causality of a homosexual tendency is disordered only the actual act of having gay sex is a sin.

          Geez at lot of the people posting here need to brush up on Aquinas.

      • By saying homosexuals have a disorder you are in fact saying they are born that way, either physically or mentally. The Catechism needs to have a stronger language. It needs to say that homosexuals commit a mortal sin.

        • The Catechism states:

          Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. (pars 2357-58)

          That’s quite clear, is it not?

          • To look back at previous articles is a blessing. Thank you.

            When we find someone who is mistaken, if we love them we will gently try to correct the error. we know the power of prayer, perhaps a person we encounter has never been prayed for!

            Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Councelor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

            John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

            John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

            John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

            Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

            1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

            My prayers are with you as you proclaim Jesus Christ.


        • And what does it mean–and not mean–to say “born that way”?
          Research into the genome does point to some genetic markers—but NOT to a gay gene—and that even these markers do NOT account for same-sex behavior.

          From the news release: Five of the genetic markers were “significantly” associated with same-sex behavior, the researchers said, but even these are far from being predictive of a person’s sexual preferences.

          “We scanned the entire human genome and found a handful – five to be precise – of locations that are clearly associated with whether a person reports in engaging in same-sex sexual behavior,” said Andrea Ganna, a biologist at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Finland who co-led the research.

          “He said these have ‘a very small effect’ and, combined, explain ‘considerably less than 1% of the variance in the self-reported same-sex sexual behavior.’ This means that non-genetic factors – such as environment, upbringing, personality, nurture, [early sexual abuse] – are far more significant in influencing a person’s choice [!] of sexual partner, just as with most other personality, behavioral and physical human traits, the researchers said.”

          • My brother:

            Blessings and peace as you proclaim truth and justice.

            Ecclesiastes 7:29 See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.

            Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

            Ephesians 4:24 And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

            Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

            Genesis 3:6-7 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

            May Father, Son and Holy Spirit continue to imbue you with wisdom.


    • Interesting article, Bishop Barron. I too found your statement that evil, strictly speaking, does not exist a puzzle. That there is an evil created spirit, and that he is a person denominated Satan, is clear from the words of Jesus, from our ancient Tradition, and from the explicit teachings of our two-thousand year Magisterium up to and including Pope Benedict XVI. I think Pope Francis too believes in the devil if one may take a publicly quoted off-the-cuff statement of his as evidence. But I strongly agree that much greater than the problem of evil is the problem of goodness. It just doesn’t connect, yet it is there.

      On homosexuality, I agree with you that it is difficult to get someone in the grip of a passionate disordered attachment or of a tragic psychosexual disorder, to pay attention to a rational argument. That could be said of many other conditions also. (For example, it is difficult to reason someone out of narcissism.) We still must try to use rational arguments. Perhaps a starting point is to extract the concession that heterosexuality and homosexuality are rather different conditions, observably so, in their consequences and effects on the individual, not just on society.

      When it comes to religious indifferentism, I have always wondered why the bishops of the Sixties closed down so many of our Catholic grade schools and high schools when they could no longer be staffed by nuns. I think with gratitude of the sisters who taught us by example and with the aid of the Baltimore Catechism, and with gratitude of the Jesuit priest who took the trouble to read through the Gospel of Mark, verse by verse, with me and my classmates. Indifferentism and ignorance on the part of Catholics is no mystery. So many bishops stopped pegging away during the disastrous Sixties. Instead of expanding the schools and strengthening catechism, they let them go just when the world was preparing a ferocious onslaught on all the Christian churches and especially on ours.

      • Michael, if you commit a sin (aka commit an evil) does this make you evil? My sin negates the goodness the Author of which is God. Goodness sourced in God is a Good, but my sin is the absence of that Good. Goodness has its source in God, but evil is the lack of goodness. Satan is not the objective source (creator) of evil, although he is undoubtedly its greatest promoter.

    • the good bishop gives not an iota of assuming whether homosexuality is born or conditioned. This has been a problem for science, but does not directly relate to the Church’s teaching.

    • Hello Susan. In your earlier comment you remarked “…you assume that…”. To whom do you refer by “you”?

      Pronouns require antecedent nouns. Susan, never assume that others will see a list of comments on a web page in the exact same order that you do. Avoid creating unintended controversies; always explicitly name the person(s) to whom you refer in your comments.

  5. Bishop,
    I am not a stupid man, but I have never heard the term ‘Aristotelian teleological ethics’ much less claim to be ‘well versed’ in it. Perhaps my Jesuit instructors in the 1970s skipped over it or, more likely, I fell asleep.
    Nevertheless, if one does can not / will not understand the simple difference between the words ‘homosexual act’ and homosexual person, well, the defect is in the listeners mind, not in the Church’s message.
    To try and sugarcoat or soft-sell the meaning of ‘abomination’ is useless. Some humility and submission to God’s Will must be forthcoming from those who view their sexuality as the paramount feature in their lives.
    Actions have consequences…they despise that message, also.

    • Ranger01

      Aristotle’s philosophy is the rational foundation of Natural Law teaching and the basis of Aquinas’ thought. You should study it the fact you haven’t been taught it is a tragedy.


  6. The sexual revolution normalized sex addiction, and the gays were at the tip of the spear. Addiction blinds the addict to the most basic truth about their addiction, so what does the bishop propose to remove the scales from the addict’s eyes.

    • No they weren’t. Homosexuality was one of the last hold outs. Contraception was the tip of the spear in the 1930s. When the cultural consensus is that the primary purpose of sex is personal gratification, mass acceptance of fornication, pornography, masturbation will soon follow. When personal gratification becomes the cultural consensus for the purpose of life arguments against any form of self expression become intolerable.

  7. Human sexuality is the way that God gave us a share in His image and likeness as our Creator. In separating sex from procreation the sexual revolution in effect served divorce papers on God the Creator. The sexual revolution for all practical purposes has terminated God the Creator’s parental rights in the sex act that He created.

  8. Dear Bishop Barron,

    I find it hard to believe that you were unaware that we are not even speaking the same language as the the secular humanist culture anymore which makes basic communication of fundamental questions extremely difficult. It is essentially impossible to convince anyone with a rational argument about the particulars of a specific teaching when you are miles apart on first principles such as “what is the purpose of life?” I think it frankly not worth the effort of trying to explain the Church’s controversial teachings when subjects like does God even exist is a bridge too far for a huge number of people.

  9. Well, as to communicating about the falsehood of approving or engaging in homosexual relations, I have a very dear friend who has escaped alive from living 20+ years in the “G” portion of the LBGT lifestyle spectrum. He suffers from the painful and increasingly debilitating ravages of AIDS and STDs. He says this, and I quote: “It is insanity for adults to tell children that it is OK for a man to inseminate another man’s intestines.”

    Those words are trying testimony from a truth-teller who is paying the awful cost of suffering in his body, and has also suffered the self-doubt caused by indulging in the G experiment, in which he was the lab subject.

    I note that his statement was targeted at adults (including apparently teachers and family members, and possibly also clergy), no matter who they were, who taught and/or promoted toleration for homosexual acts, for misleading him as a young teenage boy into the abyss, from which he escaped. This man has escaped and survived in large part due to the constancy and devotion of a few key family members and a Catholic psychologist.

    I would benefit from hearing Bishop Barron’s thoughts and discussion of this man’s personal testimony to the truth.

  10. From an early age, we are given a Palantir, or many Palantiri, into which we gaze every day. Gandalf knew the good and Denethor the Steward of Gondor ought to have known the good, but not even Gandalf could sway Denethor because of his obsession with what the Palantir, and behind it the Enemy, showed him. This is what the Church is up against in this age.

  11. Contrast: Bishop Barron goes into the lion’s den, where atheists, agnostics, snotty hipsters, homosexuals, etc bombard him with disdain and yet he still attempts to patiently teach the Catholic faith to people who are disposed to dislike him.
    Contrast with: Taylor Marshall, Voris, and Skojec, who sit in their bubbles of people who think only like they do (on pain of being banned on their websites) and spend a lot of time misrepresenting Barron, and Chaput, and others who are basically on the same side.
    Everyone can have a disagreement with Barron. But there is a certain subset of people who tend to think the are the greatest thing since sliced bread, since their overly admiring youtuibe followers tell them so, and that this entitles them to not follow Christ at all, since they are Christ’s savior.

    • Skojec, Voris, Marshall differ in kind and type from Barron. Barron is a Bishop. Skojec, Voris, Marshall speak unabashedly of their prayer and hope for bishops (particularly that one specific Bishop of Rome) to speak with the mind of Christ.

  12. “Evil does not, strictly speaking, exist.” Robert Barron

    Sounds like his Excellency may have moved on from von Balthasar and is now a disciple of Sosa.

    • No, he sounds like Augustine and Aquinas.

      “For evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name evil.” — St. Augustine.

      “For evil is the absence of the good, which is natural and due to a thing” — St. Thomas

      • The distinction here is that absence of good natural to a thing can also be accidental as in physical evil such as a deficiency, whereas on a moral plane, Evil has no formal cause apart from a willed privation of direction to a due end (Aquinas ST 49, 1). Evil (moral) is in the will.

  13. Barron must always assert directly or implicitly that scandal and theological confusion in the Church aren’t even on the list of “obstacles” or “questions.”

    After the Amazon Synod, Barron will seem like an arch-conservative, a theological dinosaur despite his “Dare We Hope” franchise.

    A good question for Barron on Reddit: after the Martin-Bergoglio shared laughter-chat where “not at this time, not in writing” was most probably expressed as a reassurance to Martin, will “intrinsically disordered” be revised in this looming? “development” (that will not contradict prior teachings, prior Popes) to “intrinsically blessed” with the rationale that there has been “a greater understanding and appreciation of sexual acts between ALL consenting adults?”

    Another question for Barron: Is the Church heading towards apostasy? Yes, a question “not even worth answering.”

    • By virtue of our existence we are all (think of anyone you like here, anyone on any continent, culture, persuasion, life style) intrinsically blessed. That was the starting and end point of Jesus’ ministry, to liberate people from the shackles of a blind and cruel religious system that was not based on an understanding and acceptance of our intrinsic blessedness but was instead transactional (if you…then…), and in which God’s power was arrogated by a class intent in perpetuating their hold over their congregations, presumably for their own worldly (not God’s) purposes. If we start from the belief that each one of us, including ourselves and including the very next person you see today is intrinsically blessed (because made in love by our loving creator) then the world would instantly shift on its axis and become more in line with what God wants of us.

      • Human nature in and of itself is not blessed. We carry the scars of original sin, the effects of which remain. We may one day be glorified but our wounds will remain, Jesus’ glorified Body possessed the marks of his passion.

        Supernatural grace, the life of Christ, alone can heal and counteract the unblessedness of human nature. We must willingly and determinedly work to invite and to let God heal us. That takes faith and striving. Each person must’battle’ to keep the life of grace operative in himself.

        Jesus did not say we were intrinsically blessed. Rather, at Matthew 10:37-38, He said:

        “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

        We are divided within ourselves and we oppose one another. Only with His help can we overcome division. The first and foremost sign of unity is with His Church, through which His presence is profoundly manifest if one seeks Him there through a profound and lifetime quest.

    • “Objectively Disordered” bro not “intrinsically disordered”. Is it too much to ask that when Trads and Cons want to correct liberals on their mistakes in theology and faulty use of terms that they lead by example?

      As far as I know Fr. Martin wants to change the CCC which calls the homosexual inclination “objectively disordered” to “differently ordered” which of course obscures the fact a homosexual inclination while not sinful in itself never the less is not good and contains the potential to lead one to sin.

      Fr. Martin is echoing the complaint from the gay lobby crowd that says “So you are saying I am disordered?” when it reads the CCC calling the homosexual inclination “objectively disordered”. Yeh we are all disordered buddy so quit yer whining. I have a disordered tempter and a tendency toward verbal cruelty which obviously is disordered. You don’t here me kvetching about it? Leave the CCC alone big guy. It is already a wee bit knackered on the Death Penalty.

        • @Micha

          Rather the phrase “objectively disordered” doesn’t apply to homosexual behavior but to the tendency in some to be attracted sexually to their own sex. Homosexual behavior that is performing mock non-reproductive erotic acts with persons who are the same gender as one’s self that ape the natural sexual acts of reproduction are intrinsically evil.

          So technically you are incorrect. Homosexual behavior is “intrinsically disordered”. That would apply to a gay person having “gay sex” or a bi person or a mostly straight person who is feeling experimental. The act is intrinsically disordered. It is evil in itself.

          Being attracted sexually to persons who are the same sex as you is objectively disordered in that the “object” of that attraction given yer nature is contrary to the natural order.

          I hope I am clear.

  14. While it’s certainly important to enter into meaningful conversations with people in our culture, we also need to be discerning and put the burden of responsibility where it properly belongs. For far too many people, “questions” like the existence of God, the nature of suffering, and the church’s teaching on homosexuality are not legitimate concerns that keep them from considering the faith. They are nothing more than smokescreens and distractions people use to avoid thinking about life deeply and authentically.

    When people ask questions about the existence of God and the nature of suffering, I almost never engage those issues on the defensive, as if my responsibility is to provide justification for belief. I first ask people to tell me what books they have read about these subjects and how different authors have helped them frame and think through the issues carefully. Lots of people have written great books that do these topics justice. If it turns out they haven’t read anything – which is often the case – I encourage them to read, study, and think first, which will then lay the groundwork for a meaningful conversation that might take place later. If they are genuinely concerned about these issues, they will “take up and read.” If they haven’t , or won’t – which is also often the case – then I know that they are just putting up smokescreens. The appropriate response in those situations is to shake the dust off of our sandals and go to the next town, so to speak.

    We want to engage the culture but not cast our pearls before swine.

  15. “Evil does not, strictly speaking, exist.” However, God created angels and God created human beings, and in His image He created them. Therefore, they are personalized beings; they are persons. Lucifer and the fallen angels, willed to separate from God and without the Good and Love that IS GOD, they created themselves evil. Like darkness permanently separating itself from light, remains forever dark. Satan is personified evil, merciless and malicious without change forever. With all due respect your Eminence, Jesus passionately gave us stern warning about hell. I much delighted in your books and sermons, but someone searching for truth, needs to hear that personified Good and Evil exist.

  16. If your average modern person read through the epistles, he or she may be put off by some of the language. For instance, St Paul tells his Christian readers, “Neither the sexually immoral, nor the impure, nor homosexuals…will inherit the kingdom of God. But such were some of you…” Yet St. Paul also gently articulates the teachings of the apostles in other letters. The modern reader can read for himself that God’s judgment against sin is part and parcel of the Gospel message.

    That being said, while it may be true that some Catholics need to approach the topic of homosexuality with more gentleness, that doesn’t entail that we ignore Scripture’s harsh condemnation of sin (not that Barron is suggesting we do). St. Paul certainly didn’t; St. Peter certainly didn’t; Jesus Christ certainly doesn’t..and won’t! Judgment cometh, and right quick….

  17. This is in regard to the third motif mentioned by Bishop Barron. I’m thinking about one person I know for whom this is a major stumbling block. My friend doesn’t so much believe that truth doesn’t exist and everything is relative, as he believes that the task of finding the truth is utterly insurmountable. My friend generally fits this profile. He was raised in a religious environment but then as a teenager said to himself, “Hey, people all over the world and throughout history have believed thousands of different things about God. How likely is it that I’ve hit the needle in the haystack and been taught the real truth about God? Not very. And how could I ever search the entire haystack to find the one truth, if it’s even in there.” He doesn’t necessarily have a negative view of religion, but he doesn’t see a path to knowing the truth either.
    I must admit that I’ve generally been stumped about how to approach this problem, but as I was thinking about this article some ideas occurred to me. First, I think the way people normally learn all kinds of truth is that they are taught it at an early age and simply believe it on faith. For example, I believe that rain is evaporated water from the earth even though I’ve never done any experiments to prove that directly. Children trust their teachers and parents and generally believe what they are taught. As they get older, if they find some aspect of what they have learned wanting then they may look into it further and discover more or different facts than they were taught as a child. Why do we treat religion so differently? If whatever you’ve been taught was good enough for your parents and probably their parents, then it’s probably a good starting point. Why not start there and do research on any points that don’t seem right to you. Investigate other religions. I don’t think there is the insurmountable plethora of religious beliefs that my generation was led to believe, especially when you compare core elements. So many people turn agnostic and simply throw up their hands on religion but would never do that on any other topic. Would a physicist, who noticed that most theories of physics throughout history have been imperfect or even flat out wrong, simply throw up her hands and say “Well, I guess the truth is simply beyond our grasp, I better just give up on this whole physics thing?” I don’t think so. You start from where you are and keep seeking truth from there. Our knowledge of God is imperfect and even the greatest saints will find out far more about God in heaven than they ever knew here, but you’ll never learn anything if you’re not in the game.

  18. You Catholics crack me up. Sure, gay sex is “evil” and yet you are MOOT on the thousands of priests, bishops and clergy who are raping children as if that somehow makes the problem go away by not addressing it. Whether gay sex is evil does not even matter at this point because the Church has so corrupted its ranks; it is a matter between that person and God. And if you don’t like that I suggest you find another religion.

  19. “Sure, gay sex is “evil” and yet you are MOOT on the thousands of priests, bishops and clergy who are raping children as if that somehow makes the problem go away by not addressing it.”

    a)You ignore the inconvenient fact that the vast majority of the abuse committed was predatory homosexual behavior.

    b)I believe the word you want is “mute,” not “MOOT,” and we are not mute about the problem.

    c)You say “are raping,” when in fact most of the abuse is in the past.

    d)The only way that the number reaches “thousands” is by looking at a span of fifty or sixty years.

    3)The problem is being addressed.

    “Whether gay sex is evil does not even matter at this point because the Church has so corrupted its ranks”

    The Church has not “corrupted its ranks.” Some Catholics are corrupt, but it is not the Church’s fault. And, sadly, a great deal of corruption in the priesthood is homosexual behavior. If you do not believe that homosexual behavior is evil, logically you don’t think that that behavior is corruption, so you are contradicting yourself.

    “it is a matter between that person and God.”

    Evil behavior is a poison to all the culture around it. Yes, in the end the person doing the evil will face God’s judgment, but it does not follow that until then the evil behavior doesn’t matter.

    “And if you don’t like that I suggest you find another religion.”

    Once again, your reasoning is flawed. If we don’t like your opinion that homosexual behavior is “a matter between that person and God,” why would we want to find another religion? We agree with the Church’s teaching.

    “You Catholics crack me up.”

    I doubt very much that you find us amusing. Rather, you use the puerile method of trying to silence disagreement by pretending that those whom you oppose are just sooooo beneath you that their views are just too, too funny. It’s about on a par with “Nyeah, nyeah, doodyhead.”

  20. Bishop Barron addresses three questions other than homosexuality: proofs of God’s existence, differences between religions, and the problem of evil. On these added questions, we have some help from Benedict XVI and Hans Urs von Balthasar:

    Benedict XVI:
    “Christianity’s claim to be true cannot correspond to the standard of certainty posed by modern science, because the form of verification here is of a quite different kind from the realm of testing by experiment—pledging one’s life for this—is of a quite different kind. The saints, who have undergone the experiment, can stand as guarantors of its truth, but the possibility of disregarding this strong evidence remains” (Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, 2003).

    Hans Urs von Balthasar:
    “The responses of the Old Testament and a fortiori of Islam (which remains essentially in the enclosure of the religion of Israel) are incapable of giving a satisfactory answer to the question of why Yahweh, why Allah, created a world of which he did not have need in order to be God. Only the fact is affirmed in the two religions, not the why. The Christian response is contained in these two fundamental dogmas: that of the Trinity and that of the Incarnation” (My Work in Retrospect, 1993).

    And as for why there is evil in the world, maybe that’s proof of a sin “original” to ourselves, rather than proof of any defect in God’s infinite goodness. The explanation seems unavoidably binary, one or the other.

1 Trackback / Pingback


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.