Bishop Barron's letter to a suffering Church

December 08, 2019
Written by: Ted Martin
I had the privilege of reading Bishop Barron's 'Letter to a Suffering Church' recently. When I say "privilege" I mean both his writing style as well as the substance of his thought is engaging. Barron is an 'intellectual' Bishop in the United States but in an engaging and non condescending way.

His book is a theologically based narrative of the current crisis in the Catholic Church. A compelling vantage point but one that I can never get behind totally. I get the idea of the devil spinning this drama, the mystery of iniquity, etc... However, there are free moral agents behind these acts and just as heinously behind the constant and continued cover ups. It is too easy in the end to push this on the devil, on bad theology, moral liberalism, etc...

The deeper and more difficult questions are still very much in front of the Church. The question of human sexuality broadly and putative celibacy for the clergy more specifically must be dealt with exhaustively and in a systematic way from the vantage point of modern scientific research; to play on the title of John Paul II's encyclical Fides et Ratio, there is an abundance of discussion about faith and the ever ephemeral spiritual crisis but very little talk about reason and what science has to say about this.

Just as importantly, the Church must courageously examine its structures, the notion of power, who can exercise it, etc... Power and sex have always been partners and this has never been more obvious than the present moment in the Catholic Church.

I applaud Bishop Barron for writing this little book. It is a helpful contribution. The faithful want more honesty and more answers though.
Ted Martin

Husband, father, writer of software, and reader of books.