Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 16, 2023 / 15:50 pm (CNA).
Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, this week argued that events such as the recently concluded World Youth Day are not only relevant to the Catholic Church but also essential to counteract what he said has been the practice of “dumbing down the faith too much for too long.”
Known for his highly popular Word on Fire ministry as well as his regular “Sunday Sermons” across social media, Barron in a recent interview with EWTN Vatican’s Colm Flynn on EWTN News Nightly reflected on the contrast between Catholicism’s decline in certain areas of the world and its growth in African and Asian countries.
The Catholic faith “is, in some ways, declining in the West; in other parts of the world, it’s not,” he said.
“One thing about World Youth Day,” the bishop said, “is that you see Catholics from all over the world, and it breaks us out of our sometimes Western myopic view of things.”
“I love that you see the vibrancy of the faith in Africa and Asia,” he added.
Asked what makes World Youth Day so special, Barron argued that people are “hungry for God whether they acknowledge it or not, whether they feel it directly or not.”
“So, when there’s an opportunity to come together to seek God, to praise God, young people respond,” he said.
Barron said young people “don’t want an uncertain trumpet; they don’t want a vacillating message. They want something clear, and when they get it, they respond to it.”
“They want something with a solid foundation,” he said. “We dumbed down the faith for too long.”
The bishop reflected on his own generation, which he said “got a ‘dumbed-down’ Catholicism” that “has been a pastoral disaster.”
That assessment, he argued, is “not just my private opinion” but is reflected in “every survey showing more people disaffiliating from the Catholic faith.”
Stressing the need for the Church to spread the Gospel, Barron in the interview recalled Pope Benedict XVI’s counsels for three main goals of the Church, which the bishop described as “to worship God, to serve the poor, and to evangelize.”
Those goals, the bishop said, are necessary on a continuum “in season and out, whether we’re successful culturally or hated culturally, we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord.”
Barron argued that young people should also be taught that while social media can be “a tool,” it’s “not the real world.”
“The real world is the worship of God, service of the poor, and communion with one another,” he said.
“I love social media,” he added. “I use it. But it’s got a very negative aspect and the numbers of anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies are all spiking among young people.”
“I know it’s tougher now,” Barron said of the present world in which young people are coming of age, “which means we need Christ more than ever. And I want them to come away with a sense of Jesus who loves them, who walks with them, and wants to be the Lord of their life in a liberating way.”
Watch the full EWTN News Nightly interview with Barron below:
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