Archbishop Robert Barron: ‘Dumb Catholicism hasn’t helped evangelization’

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Trying to make the Catholic Church simpler and more appealing to mainstream culture has proven disastrous, according to America’s most famous bishop.

Bishop Robert Barron, a controversial figure on both the secular left and right for his nonpartisan ethical advice and largely apolitical social advocacy, says attempts to modernize the church have been disastrous.

“Dumb Catholicism has not helped evangelization. Quite the contrary,” the bishop ruminated in a Sunday sermon last week. “We did this to ourselves.”

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Barron, of the Diocese of Rochester, 62, is the most followed online Catholic cleric in the country, aside from Pope Francis himself.

While his episcopal office extends to his parishes in Minnesota – where he is already widely known – his public influence extends worldwide through his books, videos, radio shows and documentaries with his Word on Fire ministries.

Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Rochester, Minnesota speaking with priests and seminarians before Mass
(Word on Fire Ministries)

Barron – who chastises being classified as progressive, conservative or anything other than “Catholic” – constantly finds himself in the spotlight for his comments on Catholic social issues due to his established online stardom.

“So in a way, we’ve met the enemy, and that’s us. We’ve done such a poor job of teaching our faith, making it beautiful, and making it intellectually compelling,” Barron told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview. “A lot of disaffiliates [Christians who left their church and no longer claim religious affiliation] said, “I never got an answer to my questions. I had all kinds of questions. I’ve never had good answers.'”

The Catholic Church in the United States is currently entrenched in a deep and long-running culture war both against political adversaries outside its communion and internally among its own members.

Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Rochester, Minnesota celebrates Mass at Lourdes High School

Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Rochester, Minnesota celebrates Mass at Lourdes High School
(Word on Fire Ministries)

Catholics make up the majority of current Supreme Court justices — most of them social conservatives — leading many progressives to warn of a top-level takeover of the judiciary by the church.

Conversely, much ink has been spilled over President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Catholic faith claims – church critics accuse them of ignoring basic moral teachings on abortion , gender theory and sexuality.

Despite the renewed prominence in the public consciousness, the church has yet to reverse the overall declining trend in attendance among Christian churches in the United States.

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At a Mass celebrated for incoming Catholic teachers and catechists, Barron blamed the continued decline in church attendance — at least in the Catholic rite — on poor spiritual education and a haphazard emphasis on accessibility.

Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Rochester, Minnesota

Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Rochester, Minnesota
(Word on Fire Ministries)

He said: “We have reduced religion – often to feel good – to ethics.”

In search of a reason for the decadence of Catholic theological teaching, many traditionalist Catholics point to the Second Vatican Council (also known as Vatican II), which began in 1962 and ended in 1965. The council did not establish any new dogma but attempted to update spiritual disciplines. , aesthetics and styles of worship for the modern, globalized church.

Changes at Vatican II included dropping the requirement that masses be said in Latin, greater emphasis on the church community, and modifying the liturgy to allow for greater pew participation.

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Barron dismisses the council’s criticisms, instead claiming that the harm was done after the council when priests and prelates failed to implement its ideas intelligently.

“[The errors occurred] after the advice, not because of the advice,” Barron said. “It was a pastoral disaster.

“The council was produced by the smartest Catholics of the mid-twentieth century,” Barron said of Vatican II. “But I grew up in the first generation that was educated after the council, and we had a terrible catechism.”

In an attempt to reorient the church for modern times, Barron argues that too much emphasis has been placed on temporal works of charity and justice – but at the cost of the crucial necessity of theology.

“The church was often reduced to ethics and more specifically social justice. Nothing wrong with ethics or social justice, but it was a kind of reductionism and the doctrinal element was underestimated” , continued Barron. “A very relativistic cultural breakdown has prevailed. So it’s been a problem for a long time.”

Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Rochester, Minnesota (center)

Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Rochester, Minnesota (center)
(Word on Fire Ministries)

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On Wednesday, Barron slammed a recent article in The Atlantic as “offensive,” warning that America’s New Awakened religion is resurrecting anti-Catholic bigotry.

Barron commented on “the colossally stupid article that appeared in The Atlantic magazine that associated the Rosary with some of these really militant right-wing extremist groups” on his popular YouTube channel.

The Atlantic play, by Daniel Panneton, suggested that Catholic rosaries called rosaries had become an “extremist symbol” and warned that Catholics are a “growing contingent of Christian nationalism”.

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While the Bishop acknowledged that “there are far-right crackpots who associate their prayer beads with their guns and all that,” ultimately the article went too far. “What was so offensive about the article was simply the insinuation that somehow the Rosary that Catholics pray is caught up in some kind of senseless militancy,” he said. -he declares.

This is part one of a multi-part interview with Bishop Robert Barron of the Catholic Diocese of Rochester, Minnesota.


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