No Picture
News Briefs

Bishop Barron: Church should engage culture with more ‘energy, panache, and confidence’

October 26, 2023 Catholic News Agency 5
Bishop Robert Barron speaks to EWTN’s Colm Flynn about evangelizing the culture today. October 2023. / Credit: Word on Fire

Vatican City, Oct 26, 2023 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

Bishop Robert Barron said he regrets the Catholic Church’s “hand-wringing” in recent decades over how to share the Christian message with a secular culture. 

In an exclusive interview with EWTN News this week, the 63-year-old bishop of Winona-Rochester said he wants to see the Church today embrace sharing the Gospel with the same gusto and confidence as when Sts. Peter and Paul evangelized Rome.

“Much of my adult life — and I say this with regret — the Church has been in a kind of hand-wringing mode of, ‘Well, what do we know, and who are we to tell you? And we’re here, really, to learn more from you.’ Come on!” Barron said during an interview at the North American College in Rome.

“Peter and Paul came to this town a long time ago and they weren’t here just to listen to Roman culture,” the bishop continued. “They were here with a message: ‘euangelion,’ there’s good news, and it’s good news that will change the world. And in fact it worked.”

“The fact that over there [St. Peter’s Basilica], Peter lies buried to this day, but dominating this once imperial capital is the cross of Jesus. That didn’t come welling up from Roman culture. That came from a message that these [apostles] brought. We should do our work with the same energy and the same panache and the same confidence,” Barron encouraged.

Bishop Robert Barron speaks to EWTN's Colm Flynn in Rome, October 2023. Credit: Word on Fire
Bishop Robert Barron speaks to EWTN’s Colm Flynn in Rome, October 2023. Credit: Word on Fire

Barron, founder of the Word on Fire media apostolate, is in Rome to participate in the Oct. 4–29 session of the Synod on Synodality.

He said despite the apparent decline in faith and rise in what have been described as spiritual “nones” — people with no belief whatsoever — he still has hope in Christ and in the message of the Catholic Church.

“Being here in Rome with the synod, every day, people from all corners of the world — well, that means there’s something in Catholicism that is still very compelling to people, and that when it’s laid out in a way that’s intellectually satisfying and aesthetically pleasing and morally compelling, they respond to it,” he argued.

The bishop said he does not believe the “new atheist nonsense” will hold people’s hearts and minds in the long run.

“And the Church?” Barron added. “I look out at the city of Rome here: [The Church has] been around for a long time and we’ve been through a lot worse than we’re going through right now. So we will endure.”

“So Christ gives me hope and the Holy Spirit gives me hope,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot worse and there’s still nothing better on the table. There’s no fresher fish on the market than Christianity. It’s still the most beautiful, compelling message that we’ve got.”

The popular speaker and writer also said he does not think disagreements in the Church are worse than they were in the ’60s, ’70s, or ’80s.

People are not only critical of Pope Francis, he said, noting that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were also attacked during their papacies, though without social media so it may not have been as much on people’s radars.

Barron also attended the Synod of Bishops on young people in October 2018.

Practically speaking, he said, the synodal assembly this month is more comfortable than the youth synod. 

Prior synods were held in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall, which has theater-like seating. Barron described it as “a somewhat claustrophobic room” and like sitting in “the middle seat on an airplane.”

He added that the larger space of the Paul VI Hall, with tables and chairs, as well as wearing suits instead of cassocks every day, is also “more comfortable, more humane … easier to get through.”

“The best part of [the Synod on Synodality]” is being with Catholics from all over the world, he said.

He recalled the “cacophonous sound” of hundreds of people speaking in different languages at the three-day retreat held ahead of the synodal assembly in a town outside Rome.

“It was the universality of the Church in all of us,” he said, “a kind of cacophonous wonder. There’s no other group or society in the world, I don’t think, that could muster that kind of international universality, and that is an extraordinary thing.”

Watch EWTN’s full interview with Bishop Barron below.


The Dispatch

Questions to enliven Synod-2023

October 18, 2023 George Weigel 15

The first session of the “Synod on Synodality,” currently meeting in Rome, is slated to be followed by a second such month-long affair in October 2024. Both aim to build a “Synodal Church of Communion, […]

No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis encourages Italian bishops as the conference begins ‘synodal journey’

May 24, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Pope Francis speaks to Italian bishops’ conference meeting in Rome on May 24, 2021. / Screenshot

Rome Newsroom, May 24, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis met with Italy’s bishops Monday as the national bishops’ conference began a general assembly to “start a synodal journey.”

The pope gave unscripted remarks as he opened the Italian bishops’ spring assembly on May 24, speaking to a conference hall full of bishops for roughly five minutes before the live video feed of his speech was abruptly cut off by Vatican Media.

Before Pope Francis began speaking, he could be heard over the microphone asking those on stage if journalists were present in the room. When the response was negative, the pope replied: “Good, so we can speak freely.”

Earlier in the day, Pope Francis visited the offices of the Vatican Dicastery of Communication and spoke live on Vatican Radio about the importance of Vatican media reaching the people.

The pope said: “There are a lot of reasons to be worried about the Radio, L’Osservatore, but one that touches my heart: How many people listen to the Radio? How many people read L’Osservatore Romano?”

“Because our work is to reach the people: that what we work on here, which is beautiful, it is great, it is laborious, reaches the people, both with translations and also with short waves.”

Pope Francis speaks to Vatican Radio on May 24, 2021. / Vatican Media
Pope Francis speaks to Vatican Radio on May 24, 2021. / Vatican Media

In the broadcast portion of Pope Francis’ unscripted remarks to the Italian bishops, the pope said that Italy’s synodal journey must “begin from the bottom up” in parish communities.

“This will require patience. It will require work. It will require us to let the people speak so that the wisdom of the people of God may emerge because a synod is not something other than making explicit what Lumen Gentium states,” the pope said.

Pope Francis also told the bishops that he was happy with the steps they had taken regarding diocesan tribunals and stressed the importance of seminary formation.

“There is a very great danger in making mistakes in formation,” he said. “We must use prudence in admitting seminarians.”

The pope returned to Vatican City after his visit to the Italian bishops’ conference meeting at the Ergife Palace Hotel and Conference Center in Rome, where he also prayed evening prayer with the assembled bishops to open their 74th General Assembly.

Italian bishops' conference spring general assembly in Rome opened May 24, 2021. / Screenshot
Italian bishops’ conference spring general assembly in Rome opened May 24, 2021. / Screenshot

The theme of the assembly taking place May 24-27 is “Announce the Gospel in a time of rebirth: To start a synodal journey”.

Cardinal Bassetti, the president of the Italian bishops’ conference, told the pope at the start of the assembly that the bishops’ national “synodal path wants to walk in harmony with that of the Synod of Bishops.”

“It is also an opportunity for our churches in Italy. In fact, in every particular church, the holy and Apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and at work.”