23 Things We Learned from Bishop Barron’s “Ask Me Anything”

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On September 19th, Bishop Barron hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. Reddit is the fifth most popular website in the United States, and Bishop Barron is the first Catholic bishop to host a Reddit AMA in the history of the site.

Here’s what we learned from Bishop Barron’s honest conversations on the front page of the internet.

 

1. The most important thing he’s learned from talking with atheists

“They are deeply interested in religion.”

 

2. When to walk away from a conversation about the faith

“I think it’s time to walk away from a discussion when emotion has come to dominate reason. It’s so important that we’re really arguing about religious matters and not just sharing passionate feelings. As for luke-warm and non-Catholics, I usually like to start with something good, true, and beautiful in the culture–movies, music, etc.–and then show how these lead to God.”

 

3. The most significant challenge to his faith life

“You know, like a lot of people over the centuries, I would say the problem of evil. Why do innocent people suffer?”

 

4. How to face recent scandal in the Catholic Church

“It’s so important to distinguish the objective validity of moral teaching from the subjective responsibility of Church leaders. I mean, we’re all sinners who fall short of the glory of God,” he responded. “The fact that Church officials cannot always live up to the moral demands of the Church doesn’t tell against the legitimacy of those demands.”

 

5. His top book recommendations for cradle Catholics 

“G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ. C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Joseph Ratzinger’s Introduction of Christianity.”

 

6. His defense of papal supremacy 

“Think of papal supremacy along the lines of umpiring or refereeing a game. Precisely because doctrine develops over space and time, there has to be some final authority to distinguish between legitimate evolution and corruption. Without this authority, the community tends to dissolve into endless bickering or it breaks apart.”

 

7. Who he would name patron saint of Reddit

“Thomas Aquinas, who engaged frequently in what were called “quodlibetal questions” in the medieval university. This meant that he would go before a crowd and answer whatever they asked.”

 

8.  He misses deep dish pizza

Once based in Chicago, now Bishop Barron calls LA his home. What does he miss the most about the windy city? “Deep dish pizza and watching the Cubs.”

 

9. The role of memes in the New Evangelization 

“Chesterton, Philip Neri, Fulton Sheen, and Pier Giorgio Frassati all used humor to propagate the faith. I would quote the words of my friend, Fr. Paul Murray, who said that laughter can relax and open up the soul so as to received the seed of the word.”

 

10. The best argument for God’s existence 

“The best argument for God’s existence is the argument from contingency. Things exist, but they don’t have to exist. This means that they exist through a nexus of causes. Now are these causes themselves contingent? If so, we have to invoke a further nexus of causes. This process cannot go on infinitely, for that would imply a permanent postponement of an explanation. We must come finally, therefore, to some reality which exists through itself, that is to say, not through the influence of conditioning causes. This is what Catholic theology means by the word God.”

 

11. Why hell exists

“Hell is a corollary of two more fundamental teachings, that God is love and that we are free. “Hell” is a term used to describe the ultimate and final rejection of the divine love. This produces great suffering in the one who refuses. If you want to get rid of Hell, you have to deny one or both of those previous assumptions.”

 

12. What Bishop Barron’s favorite part of Catholicism is

“Best part: Jesus. Worst part: we sinners.”

 

13.  His thoughts on if people suffer for no reason

“Thanks for the question, friend. The key phrase here is “for no reason.” It’s very difficult for us who have an extremely narrow grasp of space and time, ever to say in regard to an event “that doesn’t make any sense.” I mean, how can we possibly claim to know this? God is the Lord of all of history, all of space, all of time. He sees implications, consequences, and after-effects that we cannot even in principle see. That’s why we have to stand back from some things that appear meaningless to us and give them over to God’s providence.”

 

14. On whether he’s saved or not

“I’ll respond with the words of Joan of Arc, when she was asked whether she was in the state of grace: “If I am, may God keep me so; if I’m not, may God put me so.”

 

15. His simplest explanation for the Trinity 

“The Trinity is a doctrinally-elaborated statement of the claim that God is love. If God ‘is’ love, then there must be within the unity of God, a play of lover, beloved, and shared love. These correspond to what Christian theology means by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

 

16. His thoughts on other world religions

“I would say, with the Second Vatican Council, that there are elements of truth in all the great religions of the world. I admire, for example, the moral system within Judaism, the mysticism within Hinduism, the Buddhist sense of apophaticism, the great Protestant stress on grace, etc. Now, I think Catholicism contains the fullness of truth that God wanted to reveal to the world. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t partial truths in other faiths.”

17. He has a heart for those who’ve been hurt by Catholics

A Reddit user shared with Bishop Barron a story about being mistreated by a parishioner at their church. They asked him what his response would be in a situation like the one they experienced. “Gosh, I hate that story,” he wrote. “I’m really sorry. Please don’t reject the Church because of the bad behavior of some pastors and some parishioners.

 

18. Who Bishop Barron’s favorite saint is 

“Thomas Aquinas. He changed my life.”

 

19. What he thinks about being spiritual and not religious

“Not good enough. You’re reducing religion to morality, which was the strategy of Immanuel Kant. Authentic morality flows from metaphysics and from a proper view of God. Take God out of the picture, and the morality will fade away, like cut flowers in a vase.”

 

20. The role of technology in the Catholic Church

“Come on, man! The computer can be used for lots of good within the Church.”

 

21. Bishop Barron’s favorite George Harrison song

What does Bishop Barron think about George Harrison’s music? “Love it! Especially While My Guitar Gently Weeps. One of my favorite songs.

 

22. How to get kids excited about being Catholic

“Talk about it at home, a lot. Many studies have shown that family discussions contribute mightily to the maintaining of faith in kids.”

 

23. What part of Heaven he’s most excited for

“Seeing God in the face.”

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