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The Evangelical Path of Word on Fire

A hyper-valorization of any particular period of Church history, be it the American Catholicism of the 1950s or the European Catholicism of the thirteenth century, seriously undermines the Church’s present capacity to engage the culture in which it finds itself.

Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron, center, leaves the opening session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct 3, 2018. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

I commenced my writing career, roughly twenty-five years ago, as a critic of liberal Catholicism, which I referred to, in one of the first articles I ever published, as “beige Catholicism.” By this designation, I meant a faith that had become culturally accommodating, hand-wringing, unsure of itself; a Church that had allowed its distinctive colors to be muted and its sharp edges to be dulled.

In a series of articles and talks as well as in such books as And Now I See, The Strangest Way, and especially The Priority of Christ, I laid out my critique of the type of Catholicism that held sway in the years after the Second Vatican Council as well as my vision of what a renewed and evangelically compelling Church would look like. I emphasized Christocentrism as opposed to anthropocentrism, a Scripture-based theological method rather than one grounded in human experience, the need to resist the reduction of Christianity to psychology and social service, a recovery of the great Catholic intellectual tradition, and a robust embrace of evangelical proclamation.

In all of this, I took as my mentor Pope John Paul II, especially the sainted pontiff’s interpretation of Vatican II as a missionary council, whose purpose was to bring Christ to the nations.

My media ministry Word on Fire developed as the practical expression of these theoretical convictions. I did not want simply to name a problem and speculate about a solution; I wanted, above all, to contribute concretely to that solution. Hence I produced videos on a wide variety of theological and cultural themes; created long-form documentaries that conveyed the truth and beauty of Catholicism; preached biblically on radio, television, and the internet; and eventually developed an institute for the formation of lay evangelists in the Word on Fire spirit. All of this constituted a response to the beige Catholicism that I identified as problematic many years before. I have never changed my mind about Catholic liberalism, and I continue to see it as, in the words of my mentor Francis Cardinal George, “an exhausted project.”

But the same Cardinal George who strongly criticized the liberal strand within Catholicism also said this: “Conservative Catholicism in some of its reaction takes refuge in earlier cultural forms of faith expression and absolutizes them for all times and all places.” Thoroughly imbued with the missionary spirit of Vatican II, the Cardinal knew that a hyper-valorization of any particular period of Church history, be it the American Catholicism of the 1950s or the European Catholicism of the thirteenth century, would seriously undermine the Church’s present capacity to engage the culture in which it finds itself.

In recent years, a fiercely traditionalist movement has emerged within American Catholicism, finding a home particularly in the social media space. It has come about, partly, as a reaction to the same beige Catholicism that I have criticized, but its ferocity is due to the scandals that have shaken the Church the past thirty years, especially the McCarrick situation. In their anger and frustration, some of it justified, these arch-traditionalist Catholics have become nostalgic for the Church of the pre-conciliar period and antipathetic toward the Second Vatican Council itself, Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and particularly our present Holy Father.

The supreme irony, of course, is that these radically traditionalist Catholics, in their resistance to the authority of the pope and their denial of the legitimacy of an ecumenical council, have risked stepping outside the confines of the Church. Theirs is not a beige Catholicism to be sure, but it is indeed a self-devouring Catholicism. Perhaps sensing this contradiction, they remain spitting-mad at anyone who would dare challenge them.

If I might then nail my colors to the mast, Word on Fire represents a “No” to both beige and self-devouring Catholicism. It stands with Vatican II, John Paul II, Pope Francis, the Catechism of 1992, and it takes as its mission the New Evangelization. It wants neither to surrender to the culture nor to demonize it, but rather, in the spirit of St. John Henry Newman, to engage it, resisting what it must and assimilating what it can, being, as St. Paul put it, “all things to all people . . . for the sake of the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:22–23).

Against self-devouring Catholicism, it is intellectually generous, but against beige Catholicism, it desires to make all thoughts finally captive to Christ. Against the angry denizens of the Catholic right, it seeks not to condemn but to invite; against the representatives of the too-complacent Catholic left, it sees evangelization as the centrally important work of the Church.

Cardinal George said that liberal Catholicism is “parasitical upon a substance that no longer exists,” by which he meant that it subsists as a critique of a form of Catholic life that has mostly faded away. I have argued that the extreme traditionalist Catholicism of the present day is self-consuming, for it attacks the very foundations of Catholicism itself. If both of these characterizations are true, then these two critical movements are essentially moribund. I have tried to situate Word on Fire on the path of an evangelical Catholicism, the Catholicism of the saintly popes associated with Vatican II, a living Catholicism.

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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. Another mitre who has planted his feet squarely in the middle… As is said in recovery: a foot on each side & you crap all over today…
    It appears +barron is doing that to himself & our Church so badly in need of Shepherds willing to pay the price of the Gospel.. Sad

  2. Barron is just fascinating. And if we can somehow achieve a fusion of the more prudent instincts of traditionalism with the positive embrace of what he and Weigel call Evangelical Catholicism, it will be a great thing.

      • I agree. Ignatius Press has done this. But I don’t think Bishop Baron has with this overly simplistic characterization of some Catholics who do in fact believe in Vatican II but nonetheless have profound concerns about Pope Francis, the seemingly indisputable influence of the so-called lavender mafia within the Vatican, quisling members of the hierarchy, etc. While I frequently read and admire Bishop Baron’s theological insights, this analysis reminds me of his similarly disappointing preelection comments which seemed to say that since Democrats believe in abortion and Republicans support capital punishment, it’s morally OK to vote for whomever one likes.

  3. Thank you bishop for a very thoughtful analysis..your gifting to the church is immeasurable…I love word on fire and your ability to take theological issues and make them understandable to the lay person…also I too appreciated cdl george..being here in the diocese of western oregon we once had ab George as our archbishop..a wonderful man..he also spoke of a coming persecution..I believe we are getting closer to that time…as a follower of the “rad trads” I glean the meat and spit out the bones..they do have some relevant points…their implementation sometimes is misguided..I consider myself devout and a follower of my lord and savior Jesus Christ and my frustration is with the leadership of the church especially the bishops and the folks are divided and until we see a unity there regarding the real essentials of our day and a promotion of the true teachings of our faith then we the laity will continue to be confused and not about our faith or its doctrines but the lack of authentic leadership..I am reminded of that scene in Braveheart when William Wallace with great emotion and near tears crystal out to the prince of one of the clans…we just want you to lead us with courage and conviction and we will follow you.for the sake of our future and freedom.
    Please just lead us..just lead us..thanks again bishop..holy spirit guide and protect you amen…

  4. Bishop Barron hit the target absolutely right in naming and describing the polar opposites of beige and self-devouring Catholicism. Good this essay is published here where many self-devouring Catholics are constituents. This too should be published in publications like National Catholic Reporter for those of the beige Catholics.

  5. After two millennia, and when asked whether Christianity could ever really regain its “organic power in human society it once possessed”, Newman (the inspirational Father of Vatican II!), responded: “I am not a politician; I am proposing no measures, but exposing a fallacy and resisting a pretense” (Vincent Ferrer Blehl, [ed.] “Faith, Reason and Philosophy,” in The Essential Newman, Mentor-Omega, 1963, p. 297).

    So, rather than only stepping out from the bookend divergences that have followed the recent Second Vatican Council, might we also consider a longer and even more sobering view of history? What does Newman’s unadorned steadfastness look like?

    In the early 20th century, Leon Bloy viewed the predicament of a fallen (!) humanity through the lens of La Sallette (1846), where the Mother of God warned: “If my people will not submit, I am FORCED to let go the arm of my Son” (“Pilgrim of the Absolute”, Pantheon, 1947, p. 235, selection by Raissa Maritain from Bloy’s “She who Weeps”).

    Today, when all of the ground is being torn away and the abyss again opens wide beneath us, should La Sallette again inform our vantage point? With the deconstruction of marriage and the family, and with the assignment of binary sexuality as simply an arbitrary set of accessories among many other arbitrary options—-is there any doubt that the sword to Mary’s heart is aimed at even the idea of a Holy Family? What, then, of the Church as the Bride of Christ?

    True, beige Catholicism is an “exhausted project,” but with Newman, how, really, to at least “expose and resist a [very clearly diabolical] pretense”? Accompaniment? Accommodation? Dialogue? Videos?

  6. If “Conservative Catholicism takes refuge in earlier cultural forms of faith expression and absolutizes them” [Cardinal George] it rather finds itself in the current state of affairs resisting being devoured. You name a list of pontiffs, ending with Francis which is where the impasse is. True, extreme traditionalists spend energy excoriating and remain static with no real rationale for moving forward. Liberalism on the other hand, no longer fits Cardinal George’s analogy of hapless parasites on a ghost. The reason is Pope Francis has engineered a new age liberalism that is gaining momentum, incorporating the Church into the world and in the process losing its salt, its mission to convert and call to repentance. Traditionalists, who are all not that hard headed will very likely respond to a new, viable, faithful Catholicism. They don’t find it in a hierarchy that submits to the pretension of political correctness, that there is no problem with Amoris Laetitia, Fratelli Tutti, an increasingly more fraternal than sacramental, more accommodating that exclusive, more worldly than salvific Church. Word on Fire would reignite the faith if it were to articulate this matter, and its resolution, however diplomatically but with candor.

    • God bless you Fr. Morello, and your willingness to speak up. As I stated in my own reply, I am more than happy to pray for Bishop Barron, but will no longer follow anything that Word on Fire does. It, and Bishop Barron, are firmly entranched with Cupich and that part of the “Church” who will happily attack any faithful priest or Catholic, and support any lie from any Church leader in attacking any faithful Catholic. IF only Bishop Barron really was willing to “engage” the culture, including being willing to debate Church Militant, Taylor Marshall or any traditional Catholic, rather than to try to simply smear or silence them. So sad.

      • The bishop’s refusal to meet with trads and to debate? It appears to many as a cowardly unwillingness to explain the faith, to evangelize, to teach truth, to further unity and peace. What else is a good shepherd’s job? To hide when the going gets rough??

        What other interpretation do we grant such men? Trads do not fear wolves in sheep’s clothing, while wolves appear to fear the sheep.

        • You hit it right there! Willingness “… to explain the faith, to evangelize, to teach truth, to further unity and peace. It seems clergy have been so intimidated that even after all their education and spiritual formation, they feel uncomfortable and threatened by questions from the faithful. If I ask my doctor a question, he explains to me.

          When I was very young, in primary grades, we were taught by Franciscan Sisters from Germany. We were told there is no such thing as a stupid question. This was a guidepost for me all my life. Every person has a right to speak and be heard. Every person makes mistakes. Every person is a sinner. Every person has a right to disagree. Every person has a right to be respected, because we are made in His image.

          Encountering another human being is such a great gift. One of the most wonderful encounters in history is Mary’s greeting to her cousin Elizabeth-it is a forever meditation when we remember her joy “My soul doth magnify the Lord…” This Magnificat is an encouragement for not only clergy, but everyone who hesitates to really hear another person, to respond truthfully to another person. Let there be no fear, no hesitation, to listen, to speak, to say, “forgive me” – to say, “I do not know” to laugh about our own missteps

          Here I am begging priests to, “Be Not Afraid” Employ The Spiritual Works of Mercy.
          -Council the doubtful
          -Instruct the ignorant
          -Admonish the sinner
          -Comfort the sorrowful
          -Forgive injuries
          -Bear wrongs patiently
          -Pray for the living and the dead

          Bishop Barron, you are in an unique position to speak out clearly as did St. Paul. Courage, my friend – just remember St. Paul counted his shipwrecks, his imprisonment and all the everyday troubles as part of the journey. Prayers.

      • By and large faithful Catholics find open ears but closed minds when they express concerns. I found this in the Final Document of Synod of Bishops on young people:

        “The value of listening

        6. Listening is an encounter in freedom, which calls for humility, patience, readiness to understand, and an effort to respond in new ways. Listening transforms the hearts of those who do it, especially when it takes place with an inner disposition of harmony and docility to the Spirit. It is not simply a source of information or a strategy for achieving a goal, but the way that God himself relates to his people. God sees the distress of his people and hears their cry; deeply moved, he comes down to deliver them (cf. Ex 3:7-8). The Church, by her listening, enters into the movement of God who, in his Son, draws near to every human being.”

        Clergy mostly brush off the expressed “distress of his people” just like some decades ago a when adjustments were made to prayers of the Mass, one bishop said that the laity did not understand what the word transubstantiation means. Guess Catholics are too lazy, stupid or confused to know how to find out things for themselves or to ask those knowledgeable to give the answers.

        Those would be shepherds with the plush offices, 3 squares provided and a roof over their heads are mostly out of touch and too uppity to really hear and act upon the most basic need of their flocks, that is concern for the salvation of their own souls and those of their charges.

        What is important is to lobby government for money to further projects, get money for Campaign for Human Development, fill CRS rice bowls, etc. some of which monies are used for un-Catholic endeavors. This has been going on for many decades. As one bishop of my acquaintance said, “Money is easy to come by.” Sounds like our government. —–all the while hardworking Americans can foot the bill in and outside of our country for these well heeled “leader’s” plans. Fun to do the organization thing when others can pay for it.
        I would just like to landscape my yard one of these years.

  7. When Christ came He founded the Church and instituted the New and Eternal Covenant. A covenant without an expiration date. After Pentecost God was all in. We have had some two millennia of the workings of the Holy Spirit as a reference source for discernment. God gave Israel plenty of notice in the Old Testament about the changes coming with the coming of Christ. I see no such advanced notice of any such similar change in New Testament times. In fact I see the opposite. Warnings against faithlessness and false teachers, the spirit of anti-Christ. In Hebrews 13:8 it says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.” So our vertical relationship with Him as the Mediator never changes, no matter what the date on the calendar is. The very changeability of the world makes it an unreliable partner. What people say one day they will unsay the next. Just look at social media for proof. The Church should never be subservient to the fads and fashions of the day, which are here today and gone tomorrow.

  8. “In the spirit of Cardinal Newman”?
    Maybe Edward Short would enlighten +Barron about the true spirit of Cardinal Newman.

  9. My dear, dear Bishop Barron: There is no such thing as a “beige” Catholicism, or a “liberal” Catholicism, or a Catholicism of the ‘Right.” Catholicism is ONE! As far as the Catholic faith is concerned, you’re proclaiming the Truth or you are not.

    So, my dear, dear Bishop Barron, be very specific about what any of the groups you refer to are speaking that is of the Truth and what us not of the Truth. That’s the way bishops should teach. The problem with you and so many of our bishops, dear dear Bishop Barron, is that you don’t speak as Christ; you speak as politicians. And whenever you do speak as politicians, Catholics get confused because they are likely to see Joe Biden’s face and not yours. Just speak the Truth at all times and we won’t need to resort to political analyses.

    • It might be helpful for you to follow your own counsel to speak truthfully. Asserting that there are no conservative or liberal Catholics is either profoundly naive or deeply malevolent and deceptive. Acknowledging these differences honors truth.

      • I stand by what I wrote: Catholicism is ONE. There is NO division. The is Truth and there are Lies. Let those who say there are departures from Truth state specifically in what way they are departures from truth. I have no interest in political categories. My sole interest is the Catholic faith.

    • Thank you deacon ed..that’s the point I was trying to make..when all the bishops speak the truth then there will be unity and then amongst the laity true unity will follow…then we will fight with them and not against them

  10. Interesting take, but His Excellency is mistaken that the present situation resulted from Vatican II. Gregory XVI initiated the issuance of social encyclicals in 1832 with Mirari Vos to address the problems caused by both radicals and reactionaries following the French Revolution. Pius IX’s reform efforts came to nothing due to the same cause; ironically history has labeled him a reactionary, when that faction did as much damage to him as the radicals. The whole of Catholic social teaching has been twisted and in some instances hijacked altogether over this conflict, the radicals wanting to change everything, even the nature of religion itself, and the reactionaries wanting to change nothing. Thus, as Benedict XV admonished in 1914,

    25. Besides, the Church demands from those who have devoted themselves to furthering her interests, something very different from the dwelling upon profitless questions; she demands that they should devote the whole of their energy to preserve the faith intact and unsullied by any breath of error, and follow most closely him whom Christ has appointed to be the guardian and interpreter of the truth. There are to be found today, and in no small numbers, men, of whom the Apostle says that: “having itching ears, they will not endure sound doctrine: but according to their own desires they will heap up to themselves teachers, and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables” (II Tim. iv. 34). Infatuated and carried away by a lofty idea of the human intellect, by which God’s good gift has certainly made incredible progress in the study of nature, confident in their own judgment, and contemptuous of the authority of the Church, they have reached such a degree of rashness as not to hesitate to measure by the standard of their own mind even the hidden things of God and all that God has revealed to men. Hence arose the monstrous errors of “Modernism,” which Our Predecessor rightly declared to be “the synthesis of all heresies,” and solemnly condemned. We hereby renew that condemnation in all its fulness, Venerable Brethren, and as the plague is not yet entirely stamped out, but lurks here and there in hidden places, We exhort all to be carefully here and there in hidden places, We exhort all to be carefully on their guard against any contagion of the evil, to which we may apply the words Job used in other circumstances: “It is a fire that devoureth even to destruction, and rooteth up all things that spring” (Job xxxi. 12). Nor do We merely desire that Catholics should shrink from the errors of Modernism, but also from the tendencies or what is called the spirit of Modernism. Those who are infected by that spirit develop a keen dislike for all that savours of antiquity and become eager searchers after novelties in everything: in the way in which they carry out religious functions, in the ruling of Catholic institutions, and even in private exercises of piety. Therefore it is Our will that the law of our forefathers should still be held sacred: “Let there be no innovation; keep to what has been handed down.” In matters of faith that must be inviolably adhered to as the law; it may however also serve as a guide even in matters subject to change, but even in such cases the rule would hold: “Old things, but in a new way.”

    How to do this is another matter, but one possibility can be found here:

  11. Another utterly disappointing and fluffy article by Bishop Barron, trying to conceal his contempt for traditional (orthodox) Catholics in “can’t we all just get along?” lukewarmness.

    It’s worth noting how much time he spends condemning “a fiercely traditionalist movement,” calling those who are somehow and at some level aligned with the “movement” as “arch-traditionalist Catholics,” as “radically traditionalist Catholics” resisting authority and at risk of “stepping outside the confines of the church,” and as “spitting mad” Catholics whose “ferocity” embraces an “extreme traditionalist Catholicism” that is “self-devouring” and “self-consuming,” “attacking the very foundations of Catholicism itself.” And Bishop Barron doesn’t stop there. He continues to label traditionalist Catholics as “angry denizens of the Catholic right.”

    It is further worth noting, that amidst his nasty labeling of traditional Catholics, Bishop Barron barely says a word about the Catholic left, briefly labeling them as “the too-complacent Catholic left.” What?! The Catholic left who voted for Biden and his pro-abortion and Equality Act agenda, who promote liberal feminist agendas in the Church, who will flock to a Mass that celebrates Gay Pride while condemning those who attend a Traditional Latin Mass…these are just “the too-complacent Catholic left”?

    Word on Fire, Bishop Barron? More like Word on Lukewarmness. There’s no fire there, at least not that fire of the prophets of old, that fire that overturns the tables of the moneychangers and calls the religious hypocrites “brood of vipers,” that fire that says to the church: “I would that you were hot or cold, but because you are lukewarm I will spew you out of my mouth.” We need real fire like that which filled the early church and transformed the world, not a space heater to warm the feet while relaxing in a chair reading a book written by Bishop Barron.

    • My exact sentiments. Thank you.

      About a year ago, after one or another of the crises hit the Church, one of Bishop Barron’s “Fire” proselytes wrote, “LET’s BRAINSTORM” what to do and how to respond. If the followers of Barron’s word don’t instinctively know which way to turn in a crisis, their words are wasted except to douse their very own embers.

  12. I do not recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd in Bishop Barron.

    In the same way I recoiled from another author (at Crisis) who some few months ago literally lauded the horrible counterfeit “Catholic-ism” of Vichy France under Petain, I likewise recoil from Bishop Barron.

    My sense about Bishop Barron is that he is a clerical conformist. He has made an art out of avoiding hard teachings. His Archdiocese of LA promotes LBGTQ at its “REC” conference? Bishop Barron is mute on that. “”The Vatican” puts out a white-wash “Report” on McCarrick, which no one will sign or take credit for, and which candid authors like Phillip Lawler call a whitewash, and Bishop Barron calls it “unprecedented openness.” That’s just mediocre clericalist PR. Candid laymen issue a report on sex abuse in the US in 2004, and honestly note that over 80% of cases are homosexual predation of teen boys by homosexual priests, and Bishop Barron answers that the main response is to avoid a witch-hunt against homosexual clergy.

    Meanwhile, Bishop Barron persists in his ongoing witch hunt against “arch-traditionalists,” whatever that means on a given day.

    Meanwhile – Our Pontiff orchestrates idolatry in Rome in 2019.

    Bishop Barron wants the Church to be attractive. I note that so did “Rev..” Marcel Maciel.

    A completely understandable and yet very bad substitute for the truth of the Gospel.

  13. Half-truths are ultimately lies. I used to love Bishop Barron and Word on Fire. I “used to,” until they firmly planted themselves in the Biden-wing of Catholicism, no matter what he says here. I am happy to pray for him, but I will believe his “we engage” mantra, when he is willing to ACTUALLY engage with Taylor Marshall, Timothy Gordon, Church Militant and other truly faithful Catholics, the way he is willing to “engage” with those who proclaim they are “Catholic,” while tearing down all of the “truth” and “beauty” that Bishop Barron pretends to still defend.

  14. Well Bishop, count me as a traditionalist. I watched with no small level of disgust as priests made the media kneeling in “support” of BLM, all the while that group burned down American cities and pulled down statues of Father Serra located on private church property.These type of priests put a photo of George Floyd, who once held a pregnant woman at gun-point, on the altar. Traditional Catholics will resist the slanderous attacks on our personal morality, being lumped together somehow as racists based solely our own skin color,irrespective of our actual sins, all being painted with a foul accusation for a sin which now barely exists in our modern society. There is no such thing as systemic racism in the US. It is a liberal fantasy. Support for that lie, when championed by liberal priests, gives the accusation weight and legs to continue its destructive walk through our society. It is far too easy for the church to slip into accommodation with secular society, as we have seen. One can even see elements of this in the recent sex abuse scandal,a mirror image of a secular society where, sexually, “anything goes”. The church can in fact never be all things to all people, because it’s message is one which cannot be changed for convenience. It can only bring the message of Christ to all people, and pray that they respond.A church is not and should not be a social services agency.

    • LJ, what you wrote here should have been the main feature, rather than the hackneyed thoughts of Barron which get more traction than they deserve.

  15. The article has given rise to an opportunity for those who have difficulty understanding and accepting the the notions and dissertations that originate in the Vatican and other popular origins such as Word on Fire! I would suggest that the disgruntled understand the absence of democracy in Church expression of practice and never challenge the philosophical order or theological observations of Bishop Barron! He’s the best we have at this time!

    • Truly. For some, he’s the best? Heaven forbid! For others, Christ is infinitely better. Those stuck in the world fail to see what has been kept hidden from them.

  16. His Excellency Robert Barron has demurred to any engagement with young apostolates who challenge him on Church teachings. I believe he has said he would not “dignify” them with his presence. I recall a story of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen visiting a dying prostitute in a New York tenement; an outreach that saved not only her life but her soul. He would go anywhere to encounter anyone for Christ and his Church. Even in the 1950s the Archbishop was concerned about the Church, where she was and where she may well be going. She’s here. Now. This unending relaunching and remarketing of the Faith has accomplished little so far. Slogans, formats, demographics, metrics — the language of MBA programs mated to Madison Avenue and Hollywood’s shiny, busy, buzzing, and loud mollification of the Target Audience. In the era of the “seeker church,” the Church of Rome is the Lost and Found — where the lost can find and commit to the One True Faith in all its truth and splendor won at great price. Graze a streaming service, browse a book store; the Church cannot save souls by being this.

  17. Lastly before I go..lets Give bsp barron some slack…he is in his wheel house or lane and when there is good at it…it’s when he steps out that he should be unwavering and as some have commented don.t be so diplomatic..God bless

  18. “…these radically traditionalist Catholics, in their resistance to the authority of the pope and their denial of the legitimacy of an ecumenical council, have risked stepping outside the confines of the Church.”

    Who exactly are these folks? How many of them exist? How is “resistance to the authority of the pope” defined, and who has done that? Are the laity expected to be deaf, blind, dumb, and stupid as far as their intellect, reason, and sensus fidei are concerned? Who, indeed, has stepped outside the Church, outside the Body of Christ, outside the confines of Catholicism?

  19. Barron provides a self-serving mischaracterization of our current situation, a desperate attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable. It is an exercise in self-deceit pronounced virtuous to his generation. It is symptomatic of all that constitutes the current pan-socio-pathological state of the globe.
    The Church should be an agent of healing in this state of disorientation, but it has abandoned its mandate in order to find some sort of credence from the reigning atheistic secular materialists. It is a pitiful, pathetic commentary on the state of our episcopate — but even more so on commitment of the Church to its perennial Magisterium. Nothing good can come from this. The shepherds have been unmasked as hired help.

  20. I choose the Mass of the ages, the traditional Latin Mass.
    I choose to worship God, NOT pachamama!
    The silence about that idol worship of that abomination which took place in the Vatican gardens with Francis’ permission is a crime!
    I see the attack coming down on traditionalists, who do not condone or cover up that evil. What do the Cardinals and Bishops have to say about that?

  21. After reading this article I wonder what in the world is being put forth here?
    Would the author please explain what is meant by:

    -American Catholicism of the 1950s
    -European Catholicism of the thirteenth century
    -liberal Catholicism
    -liberal strand
    -angry denizens of the Catholic right
    -too-complacent Catholic left
    -fiercely traditionalist movement
    -arch-traditionalist Catholics
    -self-devouring Catholicism
    -radically traditionalist
    Just where did the author encounter all these entities and exactly what
    do they espouse to earn these pigeon holes? I find it difficult to believe
    that the author can be as “St. Paul put it, “all things to all people . . . for the sake of the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:22–23).with this condemnatory attitude. It looks like all these deplorable outcasts need to go to the the well at high noon where they can meet the Lord, repent and “robustly” proclaim Him to their communities.

    Would the author please explain further what is meant by:
    -evangelically compelling Church
    -robust embrace of evangelical proclamation
    -theoretical convictions
    -Catholic intellectual tradition

    St. Paul was on fire for Christ – for the salvation of souls. He did not deem
    comforts and fancy verbiage conducive to the fulfillment his missionary
    evangelization. He did not dabble in ” theoretical convictions”, rather he
    preached Christ.

    According to the author “In recent years, a fiercely traditionalist movement
    has emerged within American Catholicism.” —again there is “American Catholicism” —Their ” ferocity is due to the scandals the past thirty years,
    especially the McCarrick situation. In their anger and frustration, some of it
    justified, these arch-traditionalist Catholics have become nostalgic for the
    Church and antipathetic toward the Second Vatican Council itself, Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and particularly our present Holy Father.” —– Where is Pope Benedict XVI?

    First of all the “scandals that have shaken the Church” silently sat in the
    archives for seventy years and singling out only the notorious Mr. McCarrick
    (who should have been formally excommunicated until he repents–to this day
    he says that what he did was not so bad) — anyway, singling only
    Mr. McCarrick out paints an erroneous picture which blurs the scope of the
    problem of the practicing homosexual coverups employed by fellow clergy.

    Dismantling of foundational Catholic teaching which prepared Catholics to
    be salt also occurred about seventy years ago. Sixty years ago, attacks began
    on the nuclear family which ushered in birth control, divorce and abortion
    with increased frequency. Attacks on the family have excellrated since then,
    from both inside and outside the Church. Make no mistake, the main important
    mission in evangelization is upholding and nurturing the nuclear family.

    “… arch-traditionalist”(?) “Catholics have become nostalgic for the Church of the pre-conciliar period and antipathetic toward the Second Vatican Council itself…”

    First of all, the Second Vatican Council does not stand alone, rather it does
    build on and synthesizes what has gone before. In other words Catholic
    Doctrine was not cut off at the knees in the 1960s, and what has gone before
    was not thrown out the window which was “opened.”

    Secondly, Faithful Catholics are hungry for authentic explanation of the Word
    of God and the holy celebration of the sacraments. What I am personally witnessing is clergy who seem to gage their success by how many titters and chuckles they get from their homilies and whom they can have the congregation applaud.

    Heroic priests lay their lives down as did Padre Pio, who is the only priest gifted with the seven charisms. St. John Vianney did not wish to go to the the evil community of Ars, yet his bishop said, “there is no love there – you will bring it there.” He life was threatened, yet he stayed and converted his flock with sacrifice, with love. He did not “pigeon hole” his parishioners. Other more recent heroics are Mother Theresa. Her strength, she said, was gained by spending an hour before the Blessed Sacrament-Bishop Sheen did the same. Bishop Sheen was maligned by his bishop and is to this day being maligned. Just wonder how many clergy give prayer priority?

    There are many unnamed heroics of present and past days. In fact we are all called to be heroics. Weather or not one is noticed is not the issue. The issue is to willingly take up the cross daily, moreover, correction of one’s brother or sister should not induce anyone to become ” spitting-mad” – be they clergy or lay–correction is a chance for one to consider weather adjustment, repentance or change is in order.

    Furthermore, it would be safe and commendable to nail our daily “prayers, works,
    joys and sufferings” to the banner of the Crucified Lord, our Resurrected God and

    In conclusion, all in all, I found this to be a “beige” article in tandem with some of the ideology coming out of Germany and the Vatican.

  22. As long as Bishop Barron sees absolutely nothing wrong in what Bergoglio says, does or leaves undone, he remains the personification of beigeness himself. Unlike other priests, bishops and Cardinals, who have bravely tried to at least correct some of the weird ‘teaching’ and actions of Bergoglio, he has remained constantly and diplomatically mute about them. This is not exactly following in Newman’s steps. Barron is certainly clever, but ultimately unconvincing.

  23. Joe, you are living in the dream world of thousands of Catholics by calling Bishop Barron “fascinating”. Yes, he is a great orator, but he, like so many clergy, have repeatedly compromised Catholic Doctrine and Scriptural truths, the very timeless basis of the Faith. I converted from Protestantism, but now find myself, essentially in a Protestant-Catholic Church. The laity witnesses violations of the Ten Commandments, often less than sacred celebration of the Sacraments, acceptance of a “fertile earth idol” placed in St. Peters, and a self-identified practicing Catholic as President of the U.S. who publicly professes his support for wholesale abortion and other behaviors the Catholic Church previously identified as serious mortal sin that would send one to Hell. Is it any wonder there has been a wholesale exodus of Catholics to Fundamentalist Churches?! The Church has lasted 2,000 years because it did not compromise truth — if I recall Jesus Christ identified himself as “Truth and Life” itself. We need shepherds who will not compromise Truth. I pray that will be forthcoming.

  24. Let me begin with a simple confession. While I have been reading Catholic writers for most of my life, and stand ready to defend most of their views, I am not a Catholic. I also do not really worry too much about some of the nuanced arguments that consume so much of the time of many Catholics today. That is not to say that I have no opinion in each of the cases. I just believe that most of the arguments are unnecessary as there are simple methods to do away with them. Let me also confess that I like and respect Bishop Barron, both as a person and a thinker.

    But that having been said, I believe that the good Bishop has lost his way and could do an even better job attracting young people into the Church. He does not seem to be concerned about the Church’s abandonment of the great scholarship of the Late Scholastics, probably because he may not be as familiar with it as he should be.

    One of the things I love about Bishop Barron is his focus on Aquinas. The emphasis on Aquinas’ teaching can be a lure to young people. But we cannot stop there. Aquinas had a productive life but ran out of the time needed to further develop his own positions. That is where the School of Salamanca comes in. Those scholars began with Aquinas as a starting point but used reason and logic to develop positions that were very different from previous Catholic scholarship, particularly in the economic sphere.

    What Pope Francis seems not to appreciate is just how harmful many of his economic views are to the very people that he proposes to help. Archbishop Diego de Covarrubias and the Jesuit priest Luis de Molina developed a subjective theory of value. Because the subjective value placed on a good varied from person to person, just prices are arrived at by having transactions take place in a free market, and cannot be made more just by appealing to a King or Pope. And note that there is no room for the argument made by Adam Smith and Karl Marx where the just price of a good cannot be determined by the cost of labour. The Pope seems to have trouble with free markets and wants for someone to guide production and prices. The identity of that someone never seems to be of concern because, and this is a guess on my part, that question is too petty when some noble theological concepts are far more important.

    Young people are not stupid. The Church cannot get them to show up on Sunday by embracing the socialist ideas that do harm to the poor and cannot be justified on any moral grounds. This was made clear by Pope Pius XI declared in 1931 that “no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true Socialist.” Given that the Ten Commandments tell us not to steal, the Christian has to defend the right to private property. We cannot support the confiscation of property by appealing to someone like Thomas Aquinas because the desperate conditions that might justify theft are extremely rare in a market society.

    Could we appeal to someone like Chesterton and Belloc and their version of distributism? I don’t think so because, as the Catholic historian, Dr. Thomas Woods Jr., author of such books as, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, The Church Confronts Modernity: Catholic Intellectuals and the Progressive Era, and others, points out distributism was just a variant of the corporatism that longed for the days of guilds and special government privileges being used to regulate competition. While that might help merchants and guild members, such ideas do not do much for the poor. The poor are only helped when they understand that they have free will and can take responsibility for their own actions and are allowed to follow their own way in a society that protects individual liberty, property rights, and free markets.

    But neither the current Pope nor Bishop Barron is sufficiently knowledgeable of economics to understand that they often support the wrong side of an argument. As one example, Bishop Barron attacked monopolies because of the harm that they do to consumers. Is he wrong? If we are talking about a monopoly that was protected or supported by government regulations and laws then he is right. The post office does harm people because Congress does not permit private sector companies to compete. AT&T’s monopoly was harmful so Carter was correct to deregulate the sector. But Bishop Barron means all companies that got a huge part of the total market even if they earned that market share in a free market where they cut costs and improved products. A businessman like JD Rockefeller increased Standard Oil’s market share from 4% to over 80%. He fits the definition that lawyers have given for a monopoly. But why should we think that was a bad thing? After all, prices fell from around 35 cents per gallon to less than 9 cents per gallon during that time. Why should the Church oppose a company just because it is large when it does so much good. Think about this? Give me the name of a single politician or theologian who has done more for the poor than Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart?

    My point, and I am still trying to make one, is that if we want to get more young people into the Church we need to embrace logic and reason and expose them to the ideas of some of the great Catholic thinkers even if they are not popular in the current era of Socialist economics and politics. The Bishop might want to think a bit more at the principle of subsidiarity and respect the ability of local dioceses to focus on slightly different issues than the Bishop of Rome.

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