Bad Idea

Few Catholic figures have disappointed me more than Bishop Robert Barron.  His latest:


Bishop Barron noted that a person who wanted to send a “vitriolic missive to an editor” before the days of social media had to go through a lot of work that may have ended up with the editor just pitching the letter in the trash rather than publishing it.

“Today, anyone in his mom’s basement can dash off a hate-filled message and, with one press of a button, post it on social media, where it sits, unedited, for all the world to see,” he said, adding it can culminate in a mob-like mentality with “the collective goal of totally destroying the person.”

Bishop Barron noted the extremism of one side feeds into the extremism on the other side on social media. And in the Church, the bishop said, “this divisiveness has been exacerbated terribly by the social media” functioning as a scandal to people’s ability to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Strengthening the Church’s Witness

Bishop Barron said he believes the bishops should consider exercising their authority in the digital sphere “just as John Paul II, in Ex Corde Ecclesiae, called for the bishops to exercise greater supervision of universities operating under the aegis of the Church.”

“There are, to be blunt, a disconcerting number of such people on social media who are trading in hateful, divisive speech, often deeply at odds with the theology of the Church and who are, sadly, having a powerful impact on the people of God,” he said.

“I do think that the shepherds of the Church, those entrusted with supervising the teaching office, can and should point out when people on social media are harming the Body of Christ.”

Bishop Barron suggested that it may be time for bishops “to introduce something like a mandatum for those who claim to teach the Catholic faith online, whereby a bishop affirms that the person is teaching within the full communion of the Church.”

Go here to read the rest.  Why is this a bad idea:

  1.  The Bishops have flat failed under Ex Corde Ecclesiae to produce anything like orthodox Catholic teaching at Catholic colleges and university.  To point to this as a model for the Bishops to exercise supervision of the Catholic internet is risible.
  2.   The heterodox are currently in control of the Vatican.  The type of project that Bishop Barron envisages would be used to persecute orthodox Catholics on the internet.
  3.   It is unworkable.  I can think of very few Catholic writers on the Internet who would pay any attention to such silliness, except to ridicule it.
  4.   The Bishops, to put it politely, have a credibility problem.  Their role in the sex abuse scandal was shameful.  Ditto their indifference to heterodox statements by priests under their authority.  Pope Francis could deny the divinity of Christ and the reaction of most Bishops would be utter silence, except those claiming that it could be interpreted in a completely orthodox fashion.
  5.   The independent voices of Catholics on the internet are largely due to the complete abdication of leadership by most Bishops.  This authority that Bishop Barron wishes to grant them over the Catholic internet would be merely one more job for them to ignore.

More to explorer


  1. Seems to me Barron is talking more about the Mark Shea’s of the web, i.e., Catholic apologist bloggers, than the Don McClareys, bloggers who, blog on Catholic Church topics and issues because they’re Catholic.

    Anyway, he’s not wrong in his diagnosis, even if the prescription is unlikely to effect a cure.

  2. Ernst,
    What sort of Catholic media sources would be “Approved” by McCarrick, Weakland, etc.? Those who hide the truth or those who exposed it? Cupitch told his priests NOT to participate in any March for life activities. It was exposed. Many of the blogs exposing him and others and in many cases simply stating what the Church teaches on a subject would be Unapproved by these snakes in miters.

  3. Thank you JOHN F. KENNEDY. You have defined the truth about the situation. Cupich prohibited his priests from the march for the Right to Life? Cupich owns his priests? Cupich denies the supernatural soul of the newly begotten. The Right to Life is an innate human right endowed by “their Creator” Declaration

  4. just as John Paul II, in Ex Corde Ecclesiae, called for the bishops to exercise greater supervision of universities operating under the aegis of the Church.

    How did that work out for you? Anyway, it is simply not technically feasible. A Squishop has authority in his own diocese, what can he do to someone in a different diocese? Squat.

  5. I guess I hadn’t noticed before because Benedict XVI was in charge, but Barron appears to be a company man through and through. When the CEO changes, he changes.

  6. Orthodox writers, faithful, will comply – with bishops but many will be silenced because bishops won’t like the essays.
    Unorthodox writers will ignore bishops.

    So…. what’s the point.

  7. I’m not really disappointed. But that’s because I never thought much of Barron to begin with. At least he fits in well with his fellow American bishops who wouldn’t field a tough substantive question to save their lives.

    Ernst, if you think Barron has the Mark Sheas of the world in mind, I have a real estate deal for you.

    If he really wanted to do something about the vitriol and bad theology, he would be railing against his own bishop’s conference that has basically raised things like support for the criminal enterprise of illegal immigration (which also happens to be one of the world’s worst human trafficking problems and I thought the bishops were against human trafficking), the parroting of fraudulent anti-death penalty claims, and gun control to a quasi-doctrinal status and hurling invective at anyone who dares point this out.

    If Bishop Barron was as media savvy as you’d think someone in his position would be, he would instinctively know how stupid his proposal is. But his fanboys will continue to girly hush over him.

  8. I tuned in to the Catholic blogosphere a few months ago. Now I’m generally tuning out. Too many uncredentialed people seem to be writing too many opinion pieces. Too many arguments follow. Waste of time, often, for both writers and readers. I follow the writers (clergy and others) that often point to Christian classics. Otherwise, I don’t trust ’em. I especially dislike Catholic Mommy Blogs.

  9. Before he starts with online bloggers, bishop barron ought to insure that EVERY teacher of religion in Catholic elementary and high school receive the mandatum. Then, he should make certain that every parish DRE receive the mandatum. That should keep him busy and out of trouble for the next hundred years.

  10. I share your concerns, as well as your disappointment in Bishop Barron–I have learned a lot from him over the years.

    In his defense, I must mention that I am currently enrolled in a “Bible Timeline” class (Ascension Press) that is being facilitated by people trained through Chicago Scripture School. Nothing wrong with Ascension’s program, but the facilitators are fans of John Dominic Crossan, who helped build the Chgo “school.” Crossan doesn’t believe in the reality of the Resurrection, for starters.

    I was able to find a very good explanation of why Crossan is dangerous….written by Bp. Barron.

    I am also a bit mystified that Barron would want trolls/malcontents dealt with so harshly. Doesn’t he understand that some people just don’t know how to communicate in writing?

    And hasn’t he gone on record in the past to say WHY trolls shouldn’t and don’t bother him?

    Someone must have really gotten under his skin! This sounds personal.

  11. Would Cardinal Vigano letters have been censored on any of the Bishop’s/Vatican approved websites? If so, not interested in censorship of the faithful. Look no further than American Jesuit ran magazine with pro-homosexuality James Martin as editor. Would American Magazine pro-homosexuality in the priesthood be endorsed or censored by the Vatican? Would Life Site be censored? Would Cardinal Burke’s website be censured? Would Bishop Barren’s website be censored? Would Pope Benedict’s writings be censored?
    Most of the intelligent and reasoned comments come from the “conservative” and faithful Catholic websites, and the “hateful” come on the secular media’s websites no matter what the topic. Why censor just the thoughtful, but questioning bloggers, and embrace the secular, venomous, and propaganda of left-wing media?

  12. As I pointed out when Fr Rosica fielded the same idea, it’s technological idiocy! Will they approve a site and then monitor it 24/7 to make sure it never posts anything ‘bad’? Does Bishop Barron have any idea how easy it is to edit something already published online? An article gets ‘approved’ and then the writer goes in and edits it, bingo!

  13. There is, of course, some truth in what Barron has to offer. Just as there is in what France has to offer. But the same can be said of all the protestant denominations

  14. Some Catholic bloggers and writers may have gone under Bishop Barron’s skin, like the

  15. I don’t think it’s wise to regulate anything, people have a right to a platform and lies can be exposed. It’s better to find the truth in a pit of snakes then to live a lie. There are too many father maciels in charge that will attempt to lead the flock astray. Those who live with the Holy Spirit won’t let bloggers get under their skin. Great article

  16. We need another Fulton Sheen as a communicator. He addressed the midshipmen in the USNA Chapel in the mid seventies. Even then I thought it novel and refreshing that he used the words “Satan” and “sin”.

  17. The Bishops have lost most of their credibility. Until they clean up the unbelievable corruption and their silence about it in their ranks which extends all the way to the top, they will have no credibility. I am of the opinion that all they want to do is censor orthodox Catholic sites which are exposing the corruption. I believe the following quote is appropriate:

    “Who is going to save our Church? Not our Bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops and your religious act like religious” – Saint (in my opinion) Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

  18. It IS a Bishop’s job to regulate the Catholic media, independent or otherwise. But Bishop Barron’s remarks don’t sit well with me.

    It’s easy to horsewhip a “hater” sitting in “Mom’s basement.” It takes courage to call out a living-in-sin Catholic with a big pocketbook and with social clout.

    Such “supervision” can easily lead to abuse. IMHO the chanceries should have bigger fish to fry than to go after every keyboard cowboy in mom’s basement.

    Frankly, I’m glad for the “independent” Catholic media. If it weren’t for them, the corruption would have continued unchecked. Do you honestly think a diocesan newspaper would be forthcoming that it isn’t a good idea to let your nine year old attend that altar boy campout with Father Fruitcake? Or your handsome, idealistic seventeen year old son who wants to go to the diocesan seminary with weirdoes who can’t even remotely be called Catholic?

    Bishops have no right to silence concerned parents, nor should they.

    Remember the Scripture: Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed.

    (Do I need permission to post that?)

  19. Tell me that the viper-in-a-collar, Fr. James Martin, will be the first to be refused a mandatum, and then we can talk, Your Excellency. Unfortunately, based on the garbage issuing forth from the hierarchy and episcopate that the faithful have had to suffer for the past few years, the very opposite would likely be the case; yours indeed is a very bad idea.

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