“It was a diabolical masterpiece”

LA Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron says clerical abuse scandal restored his belief in the devil, suggests Vatican-appointed lay panel to investigate McCarrick scandal

Luca Signorelli’s “Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist” (click to enlarge)

The following is by Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron:

When I was going through school, the devil was presented to us as a myth, a literary device, a symbolic manner of signaling the presence of evil in the world. I will admit to internalizing this view and largely losing my sense of the devil as a real spiritual person. What shook my agnosticism in regard to the evil one was the clerical sex abuse scandal of the nineties and the early aughts. I say this because that awful crisis just seemed too thought-through, too well-coordinated, to be simply the result of chance or wicked human choice. The devil is characterized as “the enemy of the human race” and particularly the enemy of the Church. I challenge anyone to come up with a more devastatingly effective strategy for attacking the mystical body of Christ than the abuse of children and young people by priests. This sin had countless direct victims of course, but it also crippled the Church financially, undercut vocations, caused people to lose confidence in Christianity, dramatically compromised attempts at evangelization, etc., etc. It was a diabolical masterpiece.

St. Paul warned us that we battle, not against flesh and blood, but against “powers and principalities.” Consequently, the principal work of the Church at this devastating moment ought to be prayer, the conscious and insistent invoking of Christ and the saints.

Bishop Robert Barron

Now I can hear people saying, “So Bishop Barron is blaming it all on the devil.” Not at all. The devil works through temptation, suggestion, and insinuation—and he accomplishes nothing without our cooperation. If you want to see the principle illustrated, Google Luca Signorelli’s image of the Antichrist in the Orvieto Cathedral [above]. You’ll see what I mean. Archbishop McCarrick did wicked things and so did those, it appears, who enabled him. And we have to come to terms with these sins.

Before I broach the subject of how to do this, permit me to say a few words about unhelpful strategies being bandied about. A first one is indiscriminate scapegoating. The great philosopher René Girard taught us that when communities enter into crisis, people typically commence desperately to cast about for someone or some group to blame. In the catharsis of this indiscriminate accusation, they find a kind of release, an ersatz peace. “All the bishops should resign!” “The priesthood is a cesspool of immorality!” “The seminaries are all corrupt!” As I say, these assertions might be emotionally satisfying at some level, but they are deeply unjust and conduce toward greater and not less dysfunction. The second negative strategy is the riding of ideological hobby horses. So lots of commentators—left, center, and right—have chimed in to say that the real cause of the McCarrick disaster is, take your pick, the ignoring of Humanae vitae, priestly celibacy, rampant homosexuality in the Church, the mistreatment of homosexuals, the sexual revolution, etc. Mind you, I’m not saying for a moment that these aren’t important considerations and that some of the suggestions might not have real merit. But I am saying that launching into a consideration of these matters that we have been debating for decades and that will certainly not admit of an easy adjudication amounts right now to a distraction.

So what should be done? The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has no juridical or canonical authority to discipline bishops. And even if it tried to launch an investigation, it has, at the moment, very little credibility. Only the Pope has juridical and disciplinary powers in regard to bishops. Hence, I would suggest (as a lowly back-bencher auxiliary) that the bishops of the United States—all of us—petition the Holy Father to form a team, made up mostly of faithful lay Catholics skilled in forensic investigation, and to empower them to have access to all of the relevant documentation and financial records. Their task should be to determine how Archbishop McCarrick managed, despite his widespread reputation for iniquity, to rise through the ranks of the hierarchy and to continue, in his retirement years, to function as a roving ambassador for the Church and to have a disproportionate influence on the appointment of bishops. They should ask the ecclesial version of Sen. Howard Baker’s famous questions: “What did the responsible parties know and when did they know it?” Only after these matters are settled will we know what the next steps ought to be.

In the meantime, and above all, we should ask the heavenly powers to fight with us and for us. I might suggest especially calling upon the one who crushes the head of the serpent.

Full story at Word On Fire.


  1. The lay members of any investigatory commission should require, as a condition of participation, that the entire report be made public. Only then will their work have credibility.

  2. James Riederer says:

    Your Excellency, that is a load of hogwash.

  3. Anonymous says:

    No. Hire private investigators to expose every skeleton any bishop has in his closet. Then publish the findings. Ridicule. Shame. Exposure. Embarrassment. That’s how to deal with this. And it doesn’t have to be official. And it wouldn’t be under Church control. It could begin this evening.

  4. St. Christopher says:

    What started out as an essay with promise turned — shock, surprise, dismay — into a virtual apologia for the no-nothing, homosexualist cabal that has run the Church since VII. Bishop Barron, never a favorite and dangerous in his puppy-dog acceptance of non-Traditional Catholicism (e.g., reasonable hope that all men are saved, etc.), will not state the obvious (and he is such a tedious writer). Focusing on C. McCarrick is nuts, a losing proposition. The answer lies in examining two factors: (1) the effect of the Church’s voluntary abandonment of its own history, its own DNA, in rushing towards a blind ecumenism, capped by the Novus Ordo Mass (which really worked, right, in attracting Protestants); and (2) how to deal with the decades…

  5. From Bishop Barron’s book, Catholicism, page 268…
    “Satan is not the “dark side” that faces the light of God in a terrible cosmic struggle. He is a fallen creature whom God allows, for God’s own inscrutable purposes, to work woe in the world. We should take the devil with requisite seriousness, but we shouldn’t give this finally uninteresting and pathetic
    creature too much attention.”
    No wonder he gives a 98% rating for us all to enter Heaven: don’t worry, be happy!

  6. Why did the good bishop not already have faith in the scriptures,tradition,catechism and witness of the saints regarding the reality of the devil?

    • Steve Seitz says:

      Those thoughts went through my mind too. But please note that no man leaves the seminary intellectually and spiritually perfect. We all grow in knowledge and spirituality over time [if we advance towards truth]. So, I personally would give him a break and thank God that he’s been moving in the right direction.

    • In my Beach area many people do not believe that we have a shark bite problem.when there is a shark bite,even with major life-threatening lacerations,the local media only reports it as a “toothy fish incident” or a “sea creatures attack”, while the attending surgeons more honestly describe the results they staple and stitch as from a shark. Bishop Barron is a lifeguard on shark Beach. How many bite victims under his watch could have avoided damage if his belief in the danger in the water had come earlier? Good chance he would not have achieved promotion if literal belief in doctrine had been expressed earlier in his “career”

  7. Elizabeth says:

    The most interesting part of this whole disgusting event will be Pope Francis’ reaction to what Uncle Teddy has done and what is done to him. Uncle Teddy has set the Catholic Church back 100 years and then some. Uncle Teddy is living proof that the DEVIL is alive and well and does exist.

  8. Is the Mass sacred?
    Does the priest work miracles in the consecration?
    Is the Mass the holiest work of a priest?
    For 50 years priests have been given permission-by-neglect to diddle with and tamper with what is most sacred, and still do today – the Mass and Liturgy.
    How then can we complain and demand justice because they also tamper with God’s creations, human persons, children?

  9. Lou Varini says:

    Quoted from article above:
    “In the meantime, and above all, we should ask the heavenly powers to fight with us and for us.”

    Notice the conspicuous absence of reference to the sanctifying grace available through the Sacraments, especially Penance any the Eucharist. While there is a veilrd reference to the BVM, as well as the saints, he collectively refers to them as “heavenly powers.”

    Your Excellency, it it too difficult to specifically ask, God ( Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and by emphasizing the need for the intersession of the Blessed Mother, St. Michael, all the angels and saints?

  10. Michael McDermott says:

    Indeed – the Vicious Attack on the Church and its adolescent boys (Ephebophilia) carries the hallmarks of deeply diabolical planning & execution

    Yet the bought and paid for ‘free press’ (and far too many Catholics) continue to use light hearted and gaily happy euphemisms to discuss it – as if the Terms used to define the issues had no effect on the outcome

    I myself offered to produce the same results as the John Jay ‘report’ at a fraction of the cost
    Simply gather together the project staff and poll how many want to become unemployable pariahs targeted by a “Shimmering Flaming” (Valerie Solanas) Happy Activists

  11. Michael McDermott says:

    Question – Does anyone know about the demographic breakdown on the Adolescent Boys Targeted by the Lavender Mafia?
    Were they mostly poor / fatherless / few options goals to move on towards?

    In short – was their any thing besides their age & gender which made them targets?

    I am Not Ashamed of Being Catholic – I am Ashamed at the behaviors of others (a few – enough to taint the many) who would subvert the Church, even if only to play along to get along

  12. “I challenge anyone to come up with a more devastatingly effective strategy for attacking the mystical body of Christ than the abuse of children and young people by priests”.

    I would have to go with Vatican Council II on this one.

  13. Larry Fagot says:

    Have you seen the movie?

  14. Sol Casey says:

    The “enemy” is very real and his Excellency reminds is of this reality.

    Intercession of our Blessed Mother and the angels is an effective weapon against the “enemy.”

    Pray the Rosary for our the Blessed Mother’s protection of the Church and the Chaplet of St. Michael to vanquish the enemy infiltration of the Bride of Christ—the Catholic Church.

    Our Lord gave the Church the promise of Divine assistance!

    • This again. Always with the rosary. In all sincerity, if the rosary is such a powerful weapon then why do things get worse? Oh, that’s right, pray more rosaries. Lots of laity like me are wondering where God’s divine protection for the Church is lately.

      • Sol Casey says:

        Maybe you should first research the history of Our Lady’s Rosary, the tradition and Fatima before dismissing Our Lady.

        Try reciting The Memorare.

      • Eagle Tom says:

        The Triune God is outside of the constraints time of and space along with the angels and saints who enjoy the beatific vision. We, on the other hand, suffer from those very same constraints. With that in mind, God is not beholden or subservient to your wishes or timetable. He will deal with everyone in His own time ans in His own way—measure for measure.

      • Truth Seeker says:

        Wendy, a couple thoughts. The Rosary, to my own mind, has enormous power. It was revealed by the Blessed Mother herself to St. Dominic; and in later Church-approved apparitions, she has stressed its importance. I don’t doubt its efficacy. That said, the Rosary is only one of many beautiful devotions to Mary (the Akathist hymn of the Eastern Churches comes to mind). And devotion to Mary is only one of myriad ways by which to beg God to set things right. [Don’t forget devotion to the Holy Spirit: read the Sequence for Pentecost to bring to mind all the tremendous gifts He can bestow.] And, of course, we humans must do our part, too, and not leave all the heavy lifting to God’s direct intervention.

        • Steve Seitz says:

          Mr. Seeker,
          Well said. I would also add that Christ has given us great dignity. Consequently, he doesn’t want us merely to pray but also to act — to act and do what he would do.

          In regard to rooting out personal intransigent sin, he wants us to do the “advance work.” If we do our best at this work and then persist and persevere the best we can, at some point he’ll provide the grace in superabundance. And when that grace comes, you must run with it as far as it will go 🙂

      • There are a lot of people who pray a lot of Rosaries very badly. They recite it (not pray), hastily, distracted, rushing through it to get it done and over with.They do not pray with respect and reverence,their bodies and minds are not showing it, they yawn in the middle of prayers, take a sip of water, stop to chat with another, or interrupt it all together to move to another place in the church, if the school children come inside the church to “practice” some “performance”. God forbid they would be exposed to Rosary prayers.
        Does anyone think God would answer such prayers? I don’t think so.

  15. Eagle Tom says:

    I agree with you in that the Holy Father is the sole person who has the power and authority to discipline prelate. This begs the question as to why has he not done so regarding the “enablers” and those who turn a blind eye.

    Please read the following:

    After ypu have had a chance to digest the contents, we would appreciate your insigjt.

  16. DisturbedMary says:

    When pope Benedict was driven out, he left behind a 300 page explicit report on homosexuality in the hierarchy esp. Rome. If bergoglio needs an investigation, he should dig that report out of the Santa Marta trash and get moving on the recommendations.

  17. Danijela Brekalo says:

    I did not go to the Seminary, thank God. I learned my Catechism from my literate grandmother, who taught me that Devil exists and that he is real and that i should never ever let him anywhere near me,. So she insisted i learn to pray Rosary and go to confession and Holy Mass, and receive Holy Communion, and learn about my faith as I grow. I is not that complicated, Bishop Baron.

  18. To paraphrase the good Bishop Athanasius Schneider, they (the bad Church officials) have the power, but we have the apostolic Faith. Let us not despair. Lucifer was the leader of the angels, but they were not therefore obligated to follow him into error. Nor are we obligated to follow our bishops into error. These are probably the times to which our Lord referred when He said that were they not shortened, even the elect would be lost. We have the Deposit of the Faith, the Sacraments, the Rosary, and fasting, too, at our avail. We have all we need. Let us respect the office of bishop, but—with rare exception—let us look elsewhere for models of holiness. Respectfully, Bishop Barron, both you and Rome must find ways to police yourselves and…

  19. Hippo Gus says:

    Bishop Barron”s analysis and conclusions are also reflected here by another qualified person:
    All of this discontent, marginalization and divisiveness is exactly what the “enemy” wants.

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