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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Barron's Letter to a Suffering Church Falls Flat!

I finished reading Bishop Robert Barron's Letter to a Suffering Church last night at adoration. After reading a review, I ordered a copy thinking perhaps my husband and I would offer to purchase several hundred copies for our parish family.

Last night I changed my mind.

The book is short, only 100 pages of large, well-spaced print, hence, I suppose, its description as a "letter." The five chapters focus on the sex abuse crisis (The Devil's Masterpiece), Biblical teaching on sexuality (Light from Scripture), a concise history of some of the past bad times in the Church with bad clerics (We Have Been Here Before), a cogent argument for not leaving the Church (Why Should We Stay), and finally what comes next (The Way Forward) and a brief conclusion.

I was with Bishop Barron for the first four chapters and liked very much his emphasis on the Holy Eucharist, the primary reason we should never leave the Church. Where else can one receive Jesus - Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity -- to nourish both body and soul? Nowhere. No wonder Peter responded to Jesus' question whether he would leave saying, "Where can we go?...You have the words of eternal life."

Also in that chapter, Barron described the Ascension in a way I'd never considered:
We must never think of the Ascension as Jesus' leave-taking, but rather his assuming, in the manner of a general commanding a field of battle, a vantage point from which he directs the operations of his Church.
Of course! And from there Christ invites us to rally under his standard and fight for souls!

So here I was, gung ho to buy 200 copies of the book, and then I turned the page and began chapter five.

It started with a description of the "institutional reforms" which was essentially a big high five to the Dallas charter and what followed. He neglected to mention that the bishops still exempt themselves from the same mandatory requirements for parish priests and laity. He also applauded the removal of priests for "credible accusations," a policy that is problematic on many fronts as I've often pointed out, particularly the public nature of accusations with little evidence. The Fr. Escalante debacle is just one example of using a "credible accusation" to deep six a good priest.

Bishop Barron went on to say some good things that I applaud. He called for "reinvigoration of the priesthood" and a "rededication to its ideals." They say you get the priests you deserve so I couldn't disagree with his statement that, "if we want holier priests, we all have to become holier ourselves." Amen to that.

If the bishops' protocols were my only beef, I might still have pulled out my credit card and ordered the books. But then I read the conclusion. The point was that we should all stay and fight. I agree. He could have given the examples of saints who fought heresy and corruption within the Church. Several immediately come to mind: St. Athanasius, St. Peter Damian, St. Therese of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena. Good grief their number is legion!

But who did he pick for his analogy?

Abraham Lincoln: a white supremacist who sacrificed 600,000 Americans in a war waged to preserve the union. Slavery was always secondary and his preferred solution to that "peculiar institution" was a desire to send them to colonies outside the country. The one experiment with that ended badly with a colony of 450 freed slaves sent to Haiti. Most died of smallpox and starvation and the survivors had to be rescued. But that didn't keep Lincoln from continuing pursuit of his objective to keep white Americans separate from their black brothers and sisters. Like the British who sent their undesirables to Australia, Lincoln wanted his banished to Africa.

Lincoln had no desire for equal rights and said himself that if he could preserve the union with slavery intact, he would do so. And then there were the seances taking place in the White House and his enthusiasm for the war crimes of Grant, Sheridan, and Sherman who practiced a scorched earth policy against the South that targeted not only soldiers, but the civilian population. Lincoln wanted a quick end to the war and he achieved it in a way that Catholics could never approve under "just war" theory.

I think one could make the case that the North's war strategy set the stage for our atrocities in World War II including the firebombing of Tokyo that left nearly 100,000 dead, most civilians, and over a million homeless. Our Gomorrah Operation agains Hamburg conducted with the British using phosphorus bombs was barbaric and aimed at demoralizing the German civilian population by inflicting a "night of hell."

I think one could also make the case that the Civil War changed military tactics forever making "shock and awe" against civilians and the scorched earth policy acceptable. The North's conduct in the war enshrined the moral position that "the end justifies the means."

Lincoln, who was assassinated at a play on Good Friday, reminds me of Ted Kennedy who was out drinking with his nephew on another Good Friday. Both situations ended badly. Consider how different things would have been if they'd all stayed home reflecting on the Lord's passion, death, and resurrection. Neither Lincoln, the unchurched, nor Kennedy, the nominal Catholic, seemed to worry much about God's will.

I find it disturbing that Bishop Barron selected a man who was never a believer, who dabbled in the occult (God only knows what war decisions were influenced by Satan) to be used as our edifying? example to fight for revival in the Church.

Engelbert Dollfuss
For me, bringing up Lincoln was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Fortunately, I was alone in Church at the time or I might have surprised other worshipers.

If he wanted a secular example, Barron could have chosen the great Chancellor of Austria, Engelbert Dolfuss and his partner in arms, Dietrich von Hildebrand. Two heroes: one who survived and escaped to America where he continued to fight for Catholic truth and one who was murdered by the Nazis and denied a priest as he lay bleeding to death from wounds inflicted by his assassins. These two show how to fight according to Christian ethics.

But Lincoln? No way!

Needless to say, I will NOT be ordering Bishop Barron's book.

Is there an alternative? I recently read the preface to a new edition of Brandon Vogt's book Why I'm Still a Catholic. I haven't read the book, so I can't comment on it, and I'm not familiar with Brandon Vogt. But the preface for the paperback edition is very good. I wrote my own posts about Why I Remain a Catholic in 2009 before the McCarrick scandal broke into the mainstream media (I'd been writing about him for years, though) and a second post this past June.  If you care to, you can read why I remain a Catholic and Why I'll never leave.

Really -- there's no place to go, folks. Besides. No matter how many clerics try to destroy the truth, they can only batter the bride of Christ. They're doing a pretty good job of that, they can never kill her! PLEASE! Don't you want to stay and defend your mother?


Anonymous said...

Barron is nothing but a shill for the modernist conciliar church. You couldn't pay be to read or listen to anything he has to say...


rohrbachs said...

To his credit, whether he meant to or not, Lincoln effectively reversed Dred Scott. Read the cornerstone speech of the confederacy to see what he pitted lives against. It was worth it.

We so desperately need a leader to oppose the Dred Scott of today's world, or Obergefell. In fact, that is another reason to stay with the church, because of her crystal clear teachings on sexuality and reproduction.

Anonymous said...

You liked the book, but because of Bishop Barron's choice of Lincoln you are willing to throw it out the window.
Same reasoning as those who leave the church because of a bad confession experience, et al.
I used to like to read this blog, but this rant is making me reconsider if I should keep your bookmark.
Oh wait, same reason as you've given about the book!

Dad29 said...

FWIW, Churchill was as mad a dog as Lincoln.

Mary's Child Mariann said...

This may be a first, but I disagree with the picture of President Lincoln. I went to the links to read what was written. The U.K. writing on our President? I don't think so. I do believe that many ideas were floating about what to do with an enormous population of persons that had been kept from education, many who had been tortured, basically persons who had not been treated as persons...horrifying what was done to so many souls/lives. I believe this was considered mercifully and not with disdain. Even our Faith teaches how before our behaviors change our hearts must first change. People were probably not all that open to what was about to occur. I am not saying it would be the "right" choice, but I am certain it was quite a difficult time searching for answers. Additionally, regarding seances, I was unaware. However, I have always been taught that Mrs. Lincoln was going through some mentally disturbing times for years. How sad that she was seeking for help in such horrible places. That, to me, doesn't necessarily jive with affecting President Lincoln. It all sounds revisionist to me...seeing any interesting bits of information, blowing them out of proportion and judging men of the past by today's ways. Oh, shoot, my son needs me.
God bless you!
I had trouble with his book, too.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I liked parts of the book, Anonymous. But even without the Lincoln eulogy I had reservations about the book as I mentioned. Chapter 5 was very troubling to me.

And I am not a big fan of Bishop Barron in general, especially since his comment that we can reasonably hope that all are saved. If that's true then the Blessed Mother was sadistic and a liar when she showed the children of Fatima a vision of hell and told them many sinners go there.

I was giving Bishop Barron the benefit of the doubt. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, but if I'm going to spend $200 on a book it will be one I can get behind more enthusiastically than this one. If that makes you want to stop coming to the blog that is certainly your prerogative, God bless you and have a good life.

Yes, Mariann, Mrs. Lincoln was mentally disturbed by the deaths of her children and tried to contact them through the occult. Sources say Lincoln engaged in seances with her. I think the revisionist history is what we get in the Lincoln cult to which I used to belong.

I was an uncritical fan of Lincoln well into my forties. Then I got a book of his letters. Clinton was president and as I read them I kept thinking, "He sounds like Bill Clinton." Then several years later I read two of Tom Di Lorenzo's books, The Real Lincoln and Lincoln Unmasked. Much of what we've been told about Lincoln is a myth. He was indeed a great man the same way history calls Herod (who killed the holy innocents) Great.

Many people react viscerally to criticism of Lincoln because of slavery. It was a horrible institution and common during Christ's time. But isn't it interesting that Jesus never attacked it? In fact, he cured the centurion's slave and praised the centurion for his great faith. Was he recommending slavery? Of course, not. Neither was Paul who had the companionship of a slave.

We still have slavery today, but no one seems to care too much about the issue unless they're talking about the Civil War.


I have heard that Lincoln was anti-catholic, and from your description of Lincoln I believe it's true.

SAE said...

I find it disturbing that Bishop Barron selected a man who was never a believer, who dabbled in the occult (God only knows what war decisions were influenced by Satan) to be used as our edifying? example to fight for revival in the Church.
Lincoln was NEVER a believer? Everything I’ve read on Lincoln stated just the opposite ... and that he was WELL VERSED in Scripture as it was the cornerstone and foundation in his life.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I didn't say Lincoln wasn't well-versed in scripture. What does that mean? The devil knows scripture better than anyone. I remember the group "REFUSE AND RESIST" and the rock group "NINE INCH NAILS." Both those allusions are from scripture from groups that mocked God. Remember Bill Clinton carrying around a Bible? Politicians kiss babies and sometimes they talk religion.

Whatever faith Lincoln held it was unconventional and changing, what one author called "maddeningly untraditional." We are all on a journey and clearly Lincoln struggled with the "problem of God" in the words of a course at Georgetown. What did he believe in the end?

An interesting article by Stephen Mansfield says this:

"The high ground in these debates [about Lincoln's faith] has long been occupied by those who see Lincoln as a stalwart believer, a man converted and equal to the many references to God in his magnificent speeches.

"Then there are those, MOST LINCOLN SCHOLARS AMONG THEM, who insist that Lincoln was an atheist, or at least an agnostic, and that his public use of God-language was merely the religious window dressing required of politicians in a religious age.

"A wide variety of other views are arrayed between these two camps — not to mention a few outliers that maintain, for instance, that Lincoln was a wizard who astonished friends with his magical powers."

I'm not saying any more about this, but I'm offering my rosary for Abraham Lincoln today. I invite you to join me. It's a lot more useful than putting him on a pedestal.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your interesting critique of Bishop Barron’s book, Mary Anne, and I quite agree with your reasons for not choosing to fork out $200 to buy copies of it for your parish. Unfortunately ++Barron has allowed the errors of our times to influence his thinking, e.g., his comment you mentioned above about the possibility that all men are saved. What a lie! And what a terrible thing for a bishop to say!

I was once a catechist preparing youngsters for the Sacrament of Confirmation, but I loathed one of the Modernist books we were given to use for this. In extolling the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, instead of giving examples of those who had lived them to high perfection as did many well-known and well-loved saints of the Church, secular non-Christian famous people were held up as those to imitate: Hindu pagan-god-worshipper Ghandi, priest-killer Ché Guevara, and suchlike!! Needless to say, I ignored these and other parts of the book comprised as it was by kowtowing to the world and the unholy “spirit of Vatican Two”.

As an European I shall not enter into a discussion about President Lincoln. However,I think some of your accusations towards countries and their war atrocities are pretty biased and one-sided. The Japanese were known for their absolute inhumanity towards prisoners. This does not justify fire-bombing Tokyo, but be fair and don’t make it sound as though the attack was an unprovoked incident. The British may well have been guilty of certain war crimes too, but the USA can hardly deny they too have done some pretty horrific things in the many wars they have engaged in in recent times. The Germans were the first to use lethal chemical weapons, and that was in the Great War, well before WWII, when they exploded mustard gas bombs over British, Irish and French troops, causing atrocious suffering and killing and maiming countless thousands of men. To say nothing of the Nazi’s concentration camps and the unprecedented genocide they committed on civilians in WWII makes your argument here look like pot calling the kettle black, IMO.

All the same, I really like your blog and your brave defence of traditional Catholic teaching, and I certainly won’t unsubscribe from it. God bless you.


Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks for your kind words, Kathleen.

I agree with you about the atrocities of other countries and the provocation. The Japanese culture allowed incredible atrocities as many POWs describe.

The point I was trying to make is that the end never justifies the means and that someone committing a horrendous evil doesn't justify a Christian doing the same. Rahm Emmanuel's statement that if they bring a knife to a fight we bring a gun is utterly wrong and guarantees continued escalation!

We have a right to self defense, of course, but not to the point of targeting the innocent.

It's a similar moral reasoning that disallows killing a baby conceived in a rape. We don't punish the rapist by killing the baby. Neither should we retaliate against an enemy country by targeting civilians including children -- even if they do it to us!

Paul said...

I tried watching Bishop Barron's "Catholicism" series and quit after the first DVD for exactly the same reason you were offended by Lincoln. He said the Catholic Church has always preached non-violence and gave Mother Teresa, MLK and Ghandi as examples. The premise was wrong to begin with but MLK and Ghandi were not even Catholic. He panders to the world so much it turns me off.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Barron is evil. He leads people into Hell saying most are saved...which contradicts our Lord. As a Shepard he fails and is bereft of grace.

How sad...and modernist.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I do think he has a problem with human respect, Anonymous. I hope it's weakness rather than evil. He seems to me to be so focused on being nice and well-loved by everybody that he speaks in ambiguous language. I had a friend once who always said what she thought you wanted to hear. That gets real old after awhile.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your well-explained reply to me above, Mary Anne (@ 2:46pm on 20/9). I absolutely agree that “the end never justifies the means”, and I apologise for rather overlooking that point you were making in your article.

On another point which was made by ‘Anonymous” yesterday calling Bishop Barron “evil”, I really wouldn’t say that was true. Much of what Bishop Barron preaches is solid enough, and he does appear to have a great love for the Catholic Church and a good knowledge of Church history. The trouble is he is like far too many priests these days, embracing the crazy ideas of ecumaniacism to the full, and trying to project a “Church of Nice” by avoiding its “tough teachings”. That is wrong of course, cowardly, and Our Lord warned us about those who fail to preach the fullness of His teachings: “Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven” - (Matt.5:19).